- Kashmir remains under severe lockdown and surveillance more than three weeks after India changed its constitution to cancel the disputed region’s political autonomy.
- Indian authorities have repeatedly denied the existence of large-scale protests and major injuries in the region.
- Even after a Kashmir resident was blinded in one eye after being hit by three pellets, Indian officials said there have been "no major injuries to anybody," CNN reported.
- Experts told Business Insider that Kashmir’s ongoing, unprecedented militarization is paving the way to full-scale insurgency in the region.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Police in Kashmir are insisting that there have been "no major injuries" in the region during its recent crackdown even after a man was blinded in one eye after being shot with three police pellets, according to a report from CNN.
It is the latest report of heavy-handed tactics from authorities in the disputed region, which has been under tight lockdown and an information blackout since the Indian government changed its constitution to cancel the political autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir state on August 5.
Farooq Ahmad Qureshi, 35, had been walking toward his local bakery in the Karfali Mohalla neighborhood of Srinagar, Kashmir’s largest city, on August 10 when he stumbled into an anti-government demonstration, CNN reported.
"I started moving towards the baker’s shop," Qureshi told CNN. "I heard a sound and next blood started oozing from my left eye. I fell down and started crying in pain."
His doctor later told him he had been hit in the eye by three pellets, with Qureshi telling CNN he has "little chance of regaining sight."
The Indian government, however, has denied the existence of any major violence in the region.
"There have been no major injuries to anybody," CNN cited Munir Khan, as senior police officer in the region, as telling reporters on August 14. "There have been a few pellet injuries, who were treated and sent back."
Earlier this month the Indian government also denied the existence of large-scale protests in the region, and accused the BBC and Reuters of lying about them, even though they were recorded on video.
Qureshi is one of many reported victims of pellet injuries in Kashmir. Indian security forces have used pellet guns and tear gas to disperse crowds multiple times this month, both the BBC and Reuters reported.
The eye unit at Srinagar’s Shri Maharaja Hari Singh hospital has treated at least 30 victims of pellet injuries since August 5, CNN cited an unnamed doctor as saying.
Authorities have also been trying to prevent demonstrations by moving tens of thousands more troops into the region, blocking roads, and imposing curfews.
India has also imposed a widespread communications blackout in Kashmir in an effort to prevent the organization of mass protests and spread of information that is unsavory to the government.
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Jammu and Kashmir state is already one of the most highly-militarized regions in the world.
The region has seen multiple anti-India insurgencies in the past, to which the Indian government and military have responded with mass arrests, internet blackouts, and forced disappearances.
Experts believe that the ongoing, unprecedented militarization is paving the way to full-scale insurgency in the region, Business Insider’s Ellen Ioanes reported this week.
Most police, paramilitary, and army officers in Jammu and Kashmir work under the Indian government.
Many officers are now caught between their loyalties to their Indian bosses and to their friends and neighbors at home, whom they are now tasked with guarding, the Associated Press (AP) reported, citing unnamed officers.
Many Kashmiri police officers had their issued firearms confiscated days before India announced its cancelation of the state’s quasi-independence to prevent a police rebellion, the AP reported.
Satya Pal Malik, Kashmir’s new India-appointed governor, on Wednesday announced plans to fill up 50,000 positions in Kashmir’s local government in the next few months, according to the AP.
It’s not clear if these are newly-created positions or vacancies created by former officials leaving their posts.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party has long pushed for unification with Kashmir, has repeatedly said that India will help kick-start Kashmir’s economy.
Imran Khan, Pakistan’s prime minister, said earlier this month that he doesn’t want war but would not rule out conflict if it became necessary. He has also repeatedly likened the Modi administration’s actions in Kashmir to those of the Nazis.
The Indian Supreme Court is now hearing arguments on the legality of India’s revoking Kashmir’s autonomy in its 72-year-old constitution.
The hearings are expected to continue until at least October.
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