Occupied Kashmir under strict lockdown for ninth consecutive day

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An unprecedented security lockdown is keeping people in India-occupied Kashmir indoors for a ninth day Tuesday.

Indian troops patrolling the disputed region had allowed some Muslims to walk to mosques to mark the Eidul Azha on Monday and shops had been opened briefly on previous days.

But residents are now running short of essentials under the near-constant curfew and communications blackout as India tried to stave off a violent reaction to the Government decesion August 5 to strip Kashmir of its autonomy.

Witnesses described hundreds of people chanting “We want freedom” and “Go India, go back” during a brief protest Monday. Officials said the protest ended peacefully.

The lockdown is expected to last at least through Thursday, India’s independence day.

Kashmiris fear India’s moves bringing the region under greater New Delhi control will alter its demographics and cultural identity.

India said its decisions to revoke Kashmir’s special constitutional status and downgrade it from statehood to a territory would free it from separatism.

Rebels have been fighting Indian rule for decades. Some 70,000 people have died in clashes between militants and civilian protesters and Indian security forces since 1989. Most Kashmiris want independence.

India and Pakistan both claim Kashmir and have fought two wars over it. The first one ended in 1948 with the region divided between them and a promise of a UN-sponsored referendum on its future. It has never been held.

Islamabad has denounced the changes as illegal and in response has downgraded its diplomatic ties with New Delhi, expelled the Indian ambassador and suspended trade and train services with India.

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