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19 August, 2019 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 19 August, 2019 01:48:37 AM
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4,000 detained in Kashmir since autonomy stripped

AFP, Srinagar

Thousands of people have been detained in Indian Kashmir over fears of unrest after New Delhi stripped the region of its autonomy two weeks ago, government sources told AFP. A magistrate speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity said at least 4,000 people were arrested and held under the Public Safety Act (PSA), a controversial law that allows authorities to imprison someone for up to two years without charge or trial. "Most of them were flown out of Kashmir because prisons here have run out of capacity," the magistrate said, adding that he had used a satellite phone allocated to him to collate the figures from colleagues across the Himalayan territory amid a communications blackout and lockdown imposed by authorities.

The revelations came as the family of a timber trader alleged he died after suffocating from tear gas fired by security forces. "They (security forces) first damaged the property and when he went out to check, they fired tear gas shells and because of the smoke, he suffocated and died," Muddasir Ahmed, the nephew of 62-year-old Sidiq Khan, told AFP yesterday during his wake.

The Kashmir government did not immediately respond to a request for comment. One youth had died in the early days of the lockdown after he jumped into a river while being chased by police.

Authorities have repeatedly declined to provide a tally of how many people have been taken into custody, apart from confirming more than 100 local politicians, activists and academics were detained in the first few days after the state was stripped of its semi-autonomous status.

They said the "few preventive detentions" were made to avoid a "breach of the peace" in a region that has fought an armed rebellion against Indian rule for three decades. Those detained include high-profile former chief ministers Mehbooba  Mufti and Omar Abdullah. Jammu and Kashmir government spokesman Rohit Kansal said previously there was "no centralised figure" for the total number of people detained.

But AFP spoke to numerous government officials in Kashmir's main city of Srinagar, including police and security personnel, who confirmed the sweeping arrests.

A police official who asked to remain anonymous told AFP "around 6,000 people were medically examined at a couple of places in Srinagar after they were detained".

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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