Kashmir protests continue over Article 370’s revocation

Kashmiri protesters, some of them holding black flags, shout slogans in Srinagar on Saturday. (AN photo by Masrat Zahra)
Updated 11 August 2019

Kashmir protests continue over Article 370’s revocation

  • Some protesters with eye injuries from pellets admitted to different hospitals

SRINAGAR: For the second day in succession on Saturday, Srinagar witnessed protests against the Indian government’s decision to revoke Article 370 of the constitution that grants autonomous status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. 
The protest took place in Soura, in south Srinagar. Paramilitary forces chased the people and fired in the air. Protesters refused to talk to the media, blaming them not showing the real picture of resistance to the world.
On Friday also, the same area witnessed mass resistance with at least 20,000 people on the streets after the Friday prayer.
Scores of people were believed to have been injured. Some people with eye injuries from pellets were reported to have been admitted to different hospitals of the capital Srinagar. “We were going toward Eidgah (prayer ground) in a peaceful procession when the paramilitary forces started firing. There was no stone pelting.
“At first, they fired pellets and then they started firing bullets. Many people were badly injured.
“Among the injured were some old men and children. I saw a young girl also lying injured. I have been hit in my leg,” said the man.
The local government initially denied the report about protest. Later, it admitted that there was a “minor incident of procession and some injury.”
Talking to Arab News, S. J. M. Gillani, additional director general of police, said “it was a minor procession and there was no serious injury. We did not fire on any one. We used tear gas.”
However, a local photo journalist (on condition of anonymity) told Arab News that “paramilitary forces first fired in the air, and then fired indiscriminately toward the crowd, causing injures.”
“There are more than a dozen cases of bullet and pellet injuries,” the journalist said.

HIGHLIGHT

The local government initially denied the report about protest. Later, it admitted that there was a ‘minor incident of procession and some injury.’

On Saturday, the local administration relaxed the ban in the city to allow people to do shopping on the eve of Eid.
The valley has been under unprecedented clampdown since Sunday with all the communication networks remaining inaccessible.
The government has kept a close watch on the city to prevent any major violent reaction in the aftermath of the revocation of the special status to Jammu and Kashmir. However, anger on the street was visible everywhere.
“We are not Indians. We have been occupied by force,” said Samiullah Ashraf, a trader in downtown Srinagar.
“New Delhi thinks that after removing Article 370 the movement will go down. It will go up, quite the opposite,” said Ashraf.
“We are under house arrest, but the Indian media is forced to show to the world that there is normality in the state. This is not true,” Ashraf told Arab News.
Mudashar Rashid, a scientist, said: “The Indian government’s action is not only undemocratic but also against the spirit of secularism and the basic spirit of preamble.
“As a government employee, I have never spoken against the Indian government. But now I have put aside all decorum and I feel like revolting against what the government has done to the Kashmiris.”


Samoa shuts schools, declares emergency as measles kills 6

Updated 13 min 54 sec ago

Samoa shuts schools, declares emergency as measles kills 6

  • Schools were closed from Monday after the government declared an emergency on Saturday
  • The National University of Samoa told students to stay home and said exams scheduled for this week had been indefinitely postponed

WELLINGTON, New Zealand: Samoa has closed all its schools, banned children from public gatherings and mandated that everybody get vaccinated after declaring an emergency due to a measles outbreak that has so far killed six people.

For the past three weeks, the Pacific island nation of 200,000 people has been in the grip of a measles epidemic that has been exacerbated by low immunization rates.

Schools were closed from Monday after the government declared an emergency on Saturday. The National University of Samoa also told students to stay home and said exams scheduled for this week had been indefinitely postponed.

Health authorities said most of those who died were under the age of 2. They counted 716 measles cases reported, with nearly 100 people still hospitalized including 15 in intensive care.

Samoa’s Director General of Health Leausa Take Naseri said in a news conference last week that he expects the epidemic will get worse. He said that only about two-thirds of Samoans had been vaccinated, leaving the others vulnerable to the virus.

But figures from the World Health Organization and UNICEF indicate that measles immunization rates among Samoan infants have fallen steeply from over 70 percent in 2013 to under 30 percent last year.

Helen Petousis-Harris, a vaccine expert at New Zealand’s University of Auckland, said the Samoan government halted its immunization program for several months last year after two infants died from a medical mishap involving a vaccine.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Monday it was sending 3,000 vaccines to Samoa as well as nurses and medical supplies.
Ardern said Samoan authorities believe the outbreak was started by a traveler from New Zealand.

“We, of course, have an open flow of people,” Ardern said. “But we see our responsibility as supporting Samoa as they deal with the outbreak, and we are doing that actively.”

Petousis-Harris said it was disappointing that people in New Zealand who were carrying the virus had traveled to Samoa. She said New Zealand has for years known it has immunity gaps.

“But we didn’t deal with the problem,” she said.

Tonga, Fiji and New Zealand have also reported outbreaks of measles but on a smaller scale than in Samoa.