India detains Kashmir political leaders as threat to peace
NEW DELHI-Agence France-Presse
Indian authorities say they have detained three political leaders in Kashmir because they are a threat to peace, with the Muslim-majority region under lockdown following an explosive government move to revoke its special autonomy.
The three were moved to an official guest house on Aug. 5, according to a court order, the same day as the announcement in New Delhi that Kashmir's special status under the constitution had been removed.
"Your activities are likely to cause breach of peace keeping into consideration your recent activities that may likely lead to a serious law and order situation," said the order that allowed the transfer, which was obtained by AFP on Aug. 6.
Former chief ministers Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah, along with regional party leader Sajad Lone, had initially been placed under house arrest on the weekend as a huge security clampdown was put into force ahead of the controversial decree.
Kashmir remained virtually cut off from the outside world for a second day on Aug. 6 with phone and internet links cut and thousands of troops enforcing a curfew.
The order also said authorities feared the trio would organise a public rally which is currently banned in Kashmir as part of the emergency lockdown.
The magistrate's order did not make specific criminal charges.
Before being moved, Mufti took to Twitter to say that ending Kashmir's special status had reduced "India to an occupation force in Jammu and Kashmir".
on Aug. 5's decree, rushed through by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist government, removed from the constitution the special status that Kashmir had held since India's independence in 1947 when the region was divided between India and Pakistan.
The changes ended special privileges for Kashmiris in regards to owning property and reserved jobs.
Pakistan, India's nuclear-armed neighbour with which it has fought two wars over Kashmir, immediately condemned the move.
"Pakistan will exercise all possible options to counter the illegal steps," its foreign ministry said in a statement on Aug. 5.
The announcement also sparked chaotic scenes in India's parliament on Aug. 5, with the main opposition Congress party describing it as a "catastrophic step".
On Aug. 6 few Indian newspapers questioned the revocation, though many raised fears about the way it was carried out.
"There is no parallel in the history of independent India for the secrecy and stealth deployed by the government to bring in something which is politically and communally contentious," said the Indian Express.