The Muslim mayor of Srinagar, largest city in Indian occupied Kashmir, Junaid Azim Mattu, was put under house arrest on Tuesday for criticising New Delhi’s unilateral decision to revoke Article 370 and pointing out that natives were unable to communicate with their families due to the lockdown, which completed a month on Wednesday.
According to NDTV, Mattu was placed under house arrest after returning from Delhi, where he had gone for medical treatment as healthcare services were completely shut down as part of the clampdown to suppress the freedom wave in the held valley.
The report added that the mayor’s movement had previously been restricted following the Indian government’s decision to revoke Article 370 of its constitution, which granted special autonomy to occupied Kashmir.
Prior to being placed under house arrest, in an interview with NDTVon Monday, Mattu had said that “while there may not be any bodies littering the streets of Kashmir”, it would be “highly unrealistic” to assume that it had returned to normal.
“Containing a sentiment in the aftermath of a radical decision by enforcing a clampdown doesn’t mean that the situation is normal. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government’s policy of detainment seems to be a purely operational one,” he was quoted as saying.
“There are still a lot of families that haven’t been able to communicate with their loved ones,” the mayor added.
Independent media reports have revealed severe rights violations by Indian forces who had rounded up over 2000 Kashmiris by Aug 23. Their whereabouts remain unknown, NYTimes had reported at the time.
According to NDTV, Mattu had said that repealing the special status of occupied Kashmir had caused an “existential crisis because it formed the very basis of its [the region’s] identity”.
“We have always lived with a very palpable threat of violence, that’s not a new scenario. But to use that to justify the withdrawal of fundamental rights […] that’s at the very core of alienation in Kashmir,” he said in the interview.
Before India’s ruling BJP stripped Kashmiris of the special autonomy on August 5, the Indian government had imposed curfew-like restrictions in the restive region while sending in tens of thousands of additional troops. Former Indian-occupied Kashmir chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti were also placed under house arrest.
Hours after the revocation, Abdullah, Mufti, as well as Jammu and Kashmir People’s Conference leaders Sajjad Lone and Imran Ansari, were arrested.
The crippling lockdown in the region has now entered its 31st day.