Alwaght- Indian authorities have barred Kashmiri Muslims from entering mosques for Friday prayers as New Delhi continues clampdown on the Muslim-majority Himalayan region.
India has imposed a curfew and communication blackout on Kashmir for the past 12 days, after having stripped the disputed region of its special autonomy.
Residents of Kashmir’s largest city, Srinagar, said the city’s mosque was seen shut on Friday morning, with an armed vehicle outside.
Shops remained closed and many streets were noticeably empty.
“This is Friday,” said a resident Bashir Ahmed. “They are not allowing us to enter the mosque and pray… This is a matter of religion so they should not have done this.
Telephone and internet links were cut and public assembly banned in Kashmir days before New Delhi rescinded the region’s autonomy.
The security lockdown in India’s only Muslim-majority region, home to nearly seven million people, has drawn widespread criticism ever since it began.
In response, the Indian government said on Friday, that it will lift restrictions on people's movements and communication links in the next few days.
Security was tightened up on Thursday when India celebrated its independence day. Its nuclear-power rival, Pakistan, also marked its independence on the previous day.
New Delhi’s move to revoke Kashmir of its special status has sparked yet further tensions between India and Pakistan.
Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since their partition and independence from Britain in 1947. The disputed region is claimed in full by both sides, which have fought three wars over it.
In recent years, southern Kashmir has seen intense fighting between Indian forces and armed Kashmiri fighters, who are demanding independence for the Himalayan region. The conflict has left thousands dead, mostly civilians.