India calls on Kashmiris to end lockdown

By Shuriah Niazi

New Delhi (AA) – An advertisement was printed on Friday in major Jammu and Kashmir newspapers arguing that the now over two-month lockdown in the region was due to the actions of militant groups.

In the advertisement, New Delhi blamed the ongoing shutdown on "a vicious campaign and motivated propaganda", trapping residents in an "endless cycle of terrorism, violence, destruction and poverty."

Noting that shutdowns have been a regular part of life in Kashmir, it claimed that "separatists" frequently ordered locals to protest against alleged army excesses.

The government advertisement attributed the lockdown to residents' fear of attacks from militants who spurred them to push their children into violence, stone-throwing and protests.

Meanwhile, many locals in the region feel that the Indian government is responsible for the lockdown.

"It is difficult to understand our problem. Everyone in the valley is suffering from the decision taken by the government. We are the ultimate losers. They have deprived us of everything," said one local woman who did not want to be named.

She told Anadolu Agency: "Life is becoming difficult for us every passing day. We are constantly living in fear. The government has not spared even young children. They were taken into custody without any fault."

Jammu and Kashmir has been under a near-complete lockdown since the Indian government’s move on Aug. 5 to scrap the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.

Since then, the Indian government has blocked communication access and imposed restrictions on movement to thwart any protests in the region.

Several rights groups including the Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have repeatedly called on India to lift restrictions and release political detainees.

India said that 93% of the restrictions have been eased in the conflict-ridden region, a claim that Anadolu Agency could not independently verify.