India Says It Will Ease Kashmir Lockdown Soon

Grandmother Sara Ali attends to 6-year-old Kashmiri girl Muneefa Nazir, who was wounded by Indian paramilitary soldiers in Srinagar, Kashmir, this week. (AP photo/ Aijaz Hussain)

NEW DELHI (AP) — India’s government assured its Supreme Court on Friday that the situation in 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.

A heavy troop presence and restrictions including a near-constant curfew and a news blackout were in place for a 12th day Friday in the portion of Kashmir that India controls. The government imposed the lockdown to avoid a violent reaction to its decision on Aug. 5 to downgrade Muslim-majority Kashmir’s autonomy. India is led by Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

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

Meanwhile, the family of a Kashmiri journalist for a regional English daily said he has been detained by 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.

Indian soldiers lock down Srinagar, Kashmir on Thursday, for the 11th consecutive day. (AP photo/Dar Yasin)

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 on the issue.

Malik is the first journalist known to have been detained in the region 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 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.

Army spokesman Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor said in a tweet Friday that “another brave son of the soil lost his life in the line of duty” in Buttal town.

The Pakistani military and police said Thursday that Indian firing killed two civilians and three soldiers in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

On Friday, Pakistan’s foreign ministry summoned an Indian diplomat and lodged a protest of 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 India-held Kashmir and warned 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 and 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. His supporters have cheered the move as good for the country.

One of the changes 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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