India imposes curfews in Kashmir after clashes during religious procession

Kashmir has been the site of frequent altercations between security forces and locals. (File/AFP)
Updated 08 September 2019
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India imposes curfews in Kashmir after clashes during religious procession

  • At least 12 locals and six troops were injured, the worshippers on the traditional mourning procession of Muharram clashed with troops trying to stop it
  • Troops used tear gas and pellet guns on the crowd, which insisted on carrying on with the procession

SRINAGAR: India on Sunday imposed curfews in several parts of the contested Kashmir region, after clashes between security forces and Shiite Muslims taking part in a procession, officials and eyewitnesses said.
At least 12 locals and six troops were injured on Saturday evening, officials told Reuters, as the worshippers on the traditional mourning procession of Muharram clashed with troops trying to stop it.
Troops used tear gas and pellet guns on the crowd, which insisted on carrying on with the procession, one in a series held at this time of the year, and pelted stones at security forces, an Indian official who declined to named told Reuters.
“The clashes continued till late night during which the troops fired tear gas and pellets,” he added.
A spokeswoman for India’s interior ministry did not respond to a request for comment.
“Reasonable restrictions are necessary for peace and protection of life,” India’s national security adviser had said on Saturday, accusing Islamabad of trying to stoke violence in the region.
Kashmir, a mountainous Muslim-majority region claimed by both India and Pakistan, has been the site of frequent altercations between security forces and locals protesting against New Delhi’s decision to revoke special rights for the portion of the territory that it controls on Aug. 5.
The most recent clashes occurred in Rainawari and Badgam, two Shiite majority areas of Srinagar, Indian-administered Kashmir’s main city.
The five km (3 mile) procession route that passes through the city center has been barricaded by armed troops wearing helmets and bullet proof vests.
On Sunday, police vans fitted with loud speakers announced curfew-like restrictions in Srinagar’s city center Lal Chowk and adjacent areas, according to two Reuters witnesses.
“People are advised to stay indoors and not venture out of their home,” the police announced.
Suhail Ahmed, a Rainawari resident, said that there have been frequent clashes in the area for last three to four days as troops have been trying to block the procession.
“We hear deafening sounds of tear gas being fired for last few evenings. We mostly stay indoors but the gas comes into our homes making it difficult to sleep,” Ahmed said.
Muharram is the first month of the year according to the Muslim lunar calendar, and traditionally processions are held for the first 10 days of the month to observe the death of Prophet Muhammad’s nephew Imam Hussein, killed in battle in 680.
Shiite Muslims typically intensify their expression of suffering on the Ashura day, that this year falls on Tuesday.


Indonesia sending back 547 containers of waste from West

Updated 18 September 2019

Indonesia sending back 547 containers of waste from West

  • Nine containers with at least 135 tons of waste were sent back to Australia on Wednesday
  • They were among 156 containers held in Tangerang port near Jakarta that will be returned soon to other countries

JAKARTA, Indonesia: Indonesia is sending 547 containers of waste back to wealthy nations after discovering they were contaminated with used plastic and hazardous materials, amid a growing backlash in Southeast Asia against being a dumping ground for the developed world’s trash.

Nine containers with at least 135 tons of waste were sent back to Australia on Wednesday, customs director Heru Pambudi said at a news conference in Jakarta.

“Some food still remains there with liquid flowing,” Pambudi said as he showed the contents of several containers.

He said 91 other containers will be returned to Australia after administrative processes are complete.

They were among 156 containers held in Tangerang port near Jakarta that will be returned soon to other countries, including the US, New Zealand, Spain, Belgium and Britain, he said.

Pambudi said the government has stopped more than 2,000 containers this year in several ports in East Java, Jakarta, Tangerang and Batam near Singapore. So far it has sent back 331, which will be followed by 216 others to French, Germany, Greece, Netherlands. Slovenia, Canada, Japan and Hong Kong. Authorities are still investigating the rest.

The government announced in July that it had sent back nearly 60 containers of waste from Australia that were supposed to contain only paper but included household waste, used cans, plastic bottles, oil packaging, used electronics, used baby diapers and used footwear.

Pambudi said several Indonesian-owned companies that imported the waste must return it to the countries of origin within 90 days. No other sanctions were declared, although importing hazardous waste is a criminal offense with penalties of up to 12 years in prison and a fine of up to 12 billion rupiah ($850,000).

China banned the import of plastic waste at the end of 2017, resulting in more used plastic being sent to developing Southeast Asian nations.

A study published in June last year in the journal Science Advances that used United Nations data found other nations will need to find a home for more than 110 million tons of plastic waste by 2030 because of the Chinese ban.

Indonesia and China themselves are among the world’s biggest producers of plastic waste, which is increasingly fouling their land, seas and beaches.