Protesters in Kashmir challenge India’s restrictions and clash with security forces

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (VOP TODAY NEWS) — Indian security forces used tear gas to disperse stone-throwing residents in the main city of Srinagar in Kashmir on Friday, the third consecutive week of protests in the Sura region despite tight restrictions.

Security forces tried to enter Sura, which has become the focus of the protests as hundreds of locals march to protest against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision on August 5 to abolish the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, which gave the province some autonomy.

Posters appeared this week in Srinagar, the main city in the predominantly Muslim region, calling for a rally for the office of the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan to protest the Indian decision.

It was the first time separatists seeking Kashmir’s independence from India had called for such a march. In conjunction with the resolution, Indian authorities imposed travel and travel restrictions, most of which remain in force. Service returned to some landline lines this week.

The United Nations military observer group was formed in India and Pakistan in 1949 after the first war between the two countries over Kashmir, which the two countries claim full sovereignty but manage each other. The team monitors ceasefire violations at the border between the two countries.

Residents pelted security forces with stones in a narrow alley in Sora after closing it with stones and metal plates to prevent them from entering the area around a mosque, which was filled with worshipers at Friday prayers.

Security forces responded by firing tear gas and pepper bombs, but dozens of stone-throwing men forced them to retreat. Some men were wounded by shotgun shots.

Residents in the area said security forces had repeatedly tried to enter a fence using tear gas and spray guns.

Afterwards, worshipers poured into the mosque for afternoon prayers, the imam chanted for freedom several times, declared Kashmir loyal to Pakistan, and worshipers shouted behind him.

President Donald Trump is due to discuss Kashmir when he meets Moody on the sidelines of a Group of Seven meeting in France over the weekend, a senior administration official said on Thursday.

Trump, who has offered to mediate between India and Pakistan, will ask Modi how he intends to ease tensions in the region after the abolition of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and will stress the need for dialogue, the official said.

Reports in some Indian media on Friday, citing unnamed government officials, said “terrorists” had tried to enter India from Afghanistan.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan responded to Twitter on Friday by saying such allegations were aimed at “distracting” from what he called human rights violations in Kashmir.

Data from the region’s two largest hospitals showed at least 152 people had been wounded by tear gas and gunshot wounds since security forces launched a massive security crackdown.

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