Kashmiri Muslims evicted, threatened after deadly attack on Indian forces

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An injured man that an angry mob had attacked, believing him to be a Kashmiri who had shouted pro-Pakistan slogans, is shielded by Indian policemen in New Delhi on February 17, 2019. (AFP)
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Indian policemen chase protestors during the second day of curfew in Jammu, India, Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019. (AP)
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Indian protesters try to push their way through policemen guarding an injured man who had been attacked after a mob believed he was a Kashmiri who had shouted pro-Pakistan slogans, in New Delhi on February 17, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 18 February 2019

Kashmiri Muslims evicted, threatened after deadly attack on Indian forces

  • Kashmiri Muslims say they are facing a backlash in Hindu-majority India mainly in the northern states of Haryana and Uttarakhand

SRINAGAR: India has warned against rising communal tensions across the country as some Kashmiris living outside their state said they faced property evictions while others were attacked on social media after a suicide bomber killed 44 policemen in the region.
The car bomb attack on a security convoy on Thursday, claimed by Pakistan-based Islamist militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad and carried out by a 20-year-old Kashmiri man, was the worst in decades of insurgency in the disputed area, which is claimed in full by both the nuclear-armed neighbors.
As the bodies of the paramilitary policemen who died in the attack were returned to families across India this weekend, passionate crowds waving the Indian flag gathered in the streets to honor them and shouted demands for revenge. Pakistan has denied any role in the killings.
Kashmiri Muslims, meanwhile, say they are facing a backlash in Hindu-majority India, mainly in the northern states of Haryana and Uttarakhand, forcing the federal interior ministry to issue an advisory to all states.
“The ministry has taken a stringent view and has issued an advisory to all states and union territories to ensure safety and security of Kashmiris, and to maintain communal harmony,” A. Bharat Bhushan Babu, a spokesman for the ministry, told Reuters on Sunday.
Aqib Ahmad, a Kashmiri student in Uttarakhand capital Dehradun, said the owner of the house he was staying in had asked him to move out fearing an attack on his property. Two other students in Dehradun said they also had been asked to vacate their rooms.
“Where are we supposed to go?” Waseem Akram told Reuters.
The Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) state administration late on Sunday advised students from the state to reach out to liaison officers across six regions of the country in case of any problems. It said 104 students who were staying in private accommodation in the Haryana district of Ambala had been moved to hostels of a university guarded by police.
It said some Kashmiri students from Dehradun reached New Delhi on Saturday evening and had been accommodated in J&K’s guest house in the national capital.
“The state administration assures people of J&K that due cognizance is being taken for each and every call from the students and their parents, and local administration is being apprised of the developing situation,” its statement said.
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat said “no incident of beating or harassment of Kashmiri students has been reported anywhere in the state.”
“I’m making it clear that law-breakers, including rumor mongers, will not be spared either,” Rawat said in a tweet.
The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), to which all the dead officers belonged, said “fake news about harassment of students from Kashmir is being propagated by various miscreants on social media.”
“CRPF helpline has enquired about complaints about harassment and found them incorrect,” it said on Twitter.
J&K police said they were providing temporary accommodation to people returning from around the country.

“TRAITOR“
Fear has engulfed Kashmiri students in Ambala after a video on social media showed a village headman asking people to evict Kashmiri students in the area.
“In case it is not done, the person in whose residence such students are living will be considered as a traitor,” the man says in the video, whose authenticity Reuters has not been able to independently verify.
Police said they were investigating the matter.
The attack on India’s paramilitary police follows the deadliest year in Kashmir for security personnel since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party came to power nearly five years ago.
Thousands of people, including militants and civilians, have died since the insurgency began in late 1980s.
Political leaders from Kashmir appealed to the government to ensure security of Kashmiris across India, while many people on Twitter said their homes were open to Kashmiris seeking shelter.
“Understand the pain and anguish,” Mehbooba Mufti, former chief minister of J&K, said in a tweet. “But we must not allow such mischievous elements to use this as an excuse to persecute/harass people from J&K. Why should they suffer for somebody else’s action?”


Beijing says holding UK’s Hong Kong consulate employee

Updated 18 min 33 sec ago

Beijing says holding UK’s Hong Kong consulate employee

  • Simon Cheng went missing on Aug. 8 after sending his girlfriend a text message
  • Cheng is accused of violating the Public Security Administration Punishments Law

BEIJING: An employee of Britain’s consulate in Hong Kong who went missing earlier this month is being held in China, Beijing confirmed Wednesday.
The incident comes as relations between Britain and China have become strained over what Beijing calls London’s “interference” in pro-democracy protests that have wracked Hong Kong for three months.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a regular press briefing the detained man had been “placed in administrative detention for 15 days as punishment” by Shenzhen police for breaking a public security law.
Geng said the employee was from Hong Kong and therefore the issue was an internal matter.
“Let me clarify, this employee is a Hong Kong citizen, he’s not a UK citizen, which is also saying he’s a Chinese person,” Geng said.
The man, named by his family as Simon Cheng, traveled to Shenzhen, a megacity on the China-Hong Kong border, for a one-day business meeting on August 8.
That night, Cheng returned via high-speed train and sent messages to his girlfriend as he was about to go through customs.
“We lost contact with him since then,” the family said in a Facebook post.
Geng said the employee had violated the Public Security Administration Punishments Law — a law with broad scope aimed at “maintaining public order in society” and “safeguarding public security,” as well as making sure police and security forces act within the law.
The ongoing protests have raised fears of a Chinese crackdown in some form.
The unrest was initially triggered by a controversial law that would allow extradition to the mainland, but has since broadened into a call for wider democratic reforms.
Beijing has repeatedly warned Britain — the former colonial ruler of Hong Kong — against any “interference” in the protests, which erupted 11 weeks ago and have seen millions of people hit the streets calling for democratic reforms.
“Recently the UK has made many erroneous remarks about Hong Kong,” Geng said at the press briefing Wednesday.
“We once again urge the British side to stop gesticulating and fanning flames on the Hong Kong issue.”
With Beijing attempting to shape the narrative of the unrest in Hong Kong, Chinese authorities have increased their inspections at the Shenzhen border, including checking the phones and devices of some passengers for photos of the protests.
The mainland metropolis of Shenzhen sits behind China’s “Great Firewall” --which restricts access to news and information — while Hong Kong enjoys liberties unseen on the mainland.
China promised to respect the freedoms in the semi-autonomous territory after its handover from Britain in 1997, including freedom of speech, unfettered access to the Internet and an independent judiciary.
Beijing also faced criticism in the past for detaining foreign nationals amid ongoing diplomatic spats.
Ottawa has urged Beijing to release two Canadian citizens detained in December amid escalating diplomatic tensions between the two countries.
Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor were detained amid a diplomatic crisis sparked by the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer for Chinese tech giant Huawei, in Vancouver on a US extradition bid.
Former diplomat Kovrig and consultant Spavor were picked up in China on suspicion of espionage days after her arrest, in a move widely seen as retaliation.
Friends of the missing employee staged a protest outside the British Consulate in Hong Kong on Wednesday afternoon to pressure the UK government to “save Simon.”
“Hong Kong people are still fighting to oppose the extradition bill, yet something like this happened without such a bill,” organizer Max Chung told AFP.
“If the Beijing government doesn’t explain to the public why this happened, then it is playing with fire. This is a warning to Hongkongers and to whoever wants to come to Hong Kong.”
Chung told the rally that “to our best understanding” his detained friend had not been involved with the ongoing protests that have engulfed the financial hub.
“Simon is a very good guy, and smart guy... I don’t think he would do anything stupid,” he added.