Kashmir curfew to be eased after Thursday: governor

Indian authorities cut telecommunications and imposed a curfew in its Indian part of Kashmir. (File/AFP)
Updated 14 August 2019

Kashmir curfew to be eased after Thursday: governor

  • Kashmir governor said lines of communication may gradually return after seven to 10 days
  • The biggest mosque in the area was ordered to close during Eid

NEW DELHI: Restrictions on freedom of movement in Kashmir will be eased after Independence Day on Thursday, the state governor has said, although phone lines and the Internet will remain cut off.
Satya Pal Malik told Wednesday’s Times of India that communications will stay blocked as India’s government relaxes its clampdown since it stripped the region of its autonomy in early August.
“We don’t want to give that instrument to the enemy until things settle down,” Malik told the paper in an interview.
“In a week or 10 days, everything will be alright and we will gradually open lines of communication,” he said.
Fearing unrest, India snapped telecommunications and imposed a curfew in the part of Kashmir it controls on August 4, a day before its surprise presidential decree to strip the Muslim-majority region of its special status.
Tens of thousands of troop reinforcements have been deployed to the main city of Srinagar and other towns and villages, turning the picturesque city into a deserted warren of barbed wire and barricades.
The lockdown has not completely prevented protests, however.
According to residents around 8,000 people took part in a demonstration after Friday prayers, with security forces firing tear gas and pellet-firing shotguns to break up the rally.
On Tuesday the Indian government confirmed for the first time that clashes took place, blaming them on “miscreants” and saying its forces reacted with “restraint.”
For the Muslim festival of Eid on Monday the Himalayan region’s biggest mosque, the Jama Masjid, was ordered shut and people were only allowed to pray in smaller local mosques so that no big crowds could gather, witnesses said.
Footage filmed by AFP on Monday showed hundreds of people protesting in the Soura area of Srinagar, shouting slogans such as “We want freedom” and “India go back.”
Three helicopters continuously hovered over the area as protesters jeered and shook fists at the aircraft.
“What India has done is unacceptable to us. Our struggle will continue even if India keeps Kashmir locked down for months. Only solution is that India has to accept what Kashmiris want,” one protester told AFP.
Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan following independence from Britain in 1947, and has been the spark for two wars between the two nuclear-armed arch-rivals.
An armed rebellion against Indian rule — supported by Pakistan, New Delhi says — has raged since 1989, claiming tens of thousands of lives, mostly civilians.
India marks Independence Day, marking the end of British rule in 1947, on Thursday, a day after Pakistan.
On Wednesday Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, who on Sunday likened India’s government to Nazi Germany, was due to make a speech in the legislative assembly in Pakistani Kashmir.


China tests Mars lander in international cooperation push

Updated 4 min 28 sec ago

China tests Mars lander in international cooperation push

  • China plans to launch a lander and rover to Mars next year to explore parts of the planet in detail
  • China’s burgeoning space program achieved a lunar milestone earlier this year by landing a probe on the mysterious far side of the moon

HUAILAI, China: China invited international observers to a Thursday test of its Mars lander as it pushes for inclusion in more global space projects.

The demonstration of hovering, obstacle avoidance and deceleration capabilities was conducted at a site outside Beijing simulating conditions on the Red Planet, where the pull of gravity is about one-third that of Earth.

China plans to launch a lander and rover to Mars next year to explore parts of the planet in detail.

China’s burgeoning space program achieved a lunar milestone earlier this year by landing a probe on the mysterious far side of the moon.

It has developed rapidly, especially since it conducted its first crewed mission in 2003 and has sought cooperation with space agencies from Europe and elsewhere.

The US, however, has banned most space cooperation with China out of national security concerns, keeping China from participating in the International Space Station.

Despite that, China’s ambitions continue to grow as it seeks to rival the US, Russia and Europe in space and cement its position as a regional and global power.

Guests at Thursday’s event came from 19 countries and included the ambassadors of Brazil, France and Italy.

“This event is the first public appearance of China’s Mars exploration mission, also an important measure for China to pragmatically carry out space international exchanges and cooperation,” the China National Space Administration said in a news release.