Pakistan's Mohammad Aslam shows a picture of his son Taimoor Aslam, who he said lost his life at the Kashmir border area called the Line of Control between Indian and Pakistan, Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019, in Lahore, Pakistan. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudhry)

Lawyer says India promises to ease Kashmir lockdown in days

August 16, 2019 - 6:22 am

NEW DELHI (AP) — India's government assured the Supreme Court on Friday that the situation in disputed Kashmir is being reviewed daily and unprecedented security restrictions will be removed over the next few days, an attorney said after the court heard challenges to India's moves.

Landline phone services will be restored gradually beginning Friday night and schools reopened from Monday, top Indian bureaucrat B.V.R. Subramaniam told reporters in Srinagar, the main city in Indian-controlled Kashmir.

A heavy troop presence and restrictions including a near-constant curfew and a news blackout remained in place for a 12th day. The government imposed the lockdown to avoid a violent reaction to its decision on Aug. 5 to downgrade Muslim-majority Kashmir's autonomy.

The court decided to give the government more time before ruling on a petition demanding the lifting of media restrictions, attorney Vrinda Grover told reporters. She represents Kashmir Times editor Anuradha Bhasin, who said she was unable to publish her newspaper in Srinagar.

Subramaniam also said that government offices had started functioning normally. He said that Friday's prayers passed off peacefully in the region and life in 12 of the region's 22 districts was almost back to normal.

Public transport will be restored gradually after evaluating the security situation, he said.

Meanwhile, the family of a Kashmiri journalist for a regional English daily said he has been detained by the Indian armed forces. Irfan Amin Malik works for Greater Kashmir, one of the largest newspapers in Kashmir.

Malik's father, Mohammed Amin Malik, told The Associated Press that Malik was taken into custody late Wednesday night at his house in Tral in Pulwama, a southern district in Kashmir. "We are worried about our son," he said.

Principal Secretary Rohit Kansal of the Jammu and Kashmir region said he was looking into the case. Jammu and Kashmir police chief Dilbagh Singh declined to comment.

Malik is the first journalist known to have been detained since India's decision to revoke Kashmir's special constitutional status. The decision has raised tensions with Pakistan. The nuclear-armed rivals both claim Kashmir and the Himalayan region is divided between them.

Pakistan's military said earlier Friday that Indian firing across the Line of Control dividing the region killed another soldier, raising the death toll to six in less than 24 hours.

Pakistan's foreign ministry summoned an Indian diplomat and lodged a protest over the killings. The ministry said in a statement that the "cease-fire violations by India are a threat to regional peace and security and may lead to a strategic miscalculation."

There was no immediate comment from the Indian army.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan condemned the continued clampdown in Indian-administered Kashmir and warned his counterpart, Narendra Modi, that "no nation can be defeated militarily when it rises for independence."

Khan in a tweet described Modi as a "fascist, Hindu supremacist." He equated Modi with Adolf Hitler and said he feared "genocide of Muslims in Kashmir."

Before Indian elections in April-May, Khan had expressed hope that the Kashmir issue could be resolved through talks if Modi's Hindu nationalist party won the vote.

Modi has defended the Kashmir changes as freeing the territory from separatism, and his supporters welcomed the move.

One of the revisions allows anyone to buy land in Indian-controlled Kashmir, which some Kashmiris fear could change the region's culture and demographics. Critics have likened it to Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories.

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Associated Press writer Munir Ahmed in Islamabad, Pakistan, contributed to this report.

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