Thousands detained in Indian Kashmir crackdown, official data reveals

Indian security personnel stand guard on a deserted street in Jammu on Monday. Photo: Reuters
Updated 12 September 2019

Thousands detained in Indian Kashmir crackdown, official data reveals

  • Bulk of those arrested - more than 3,000 - were listed as “stone pelters and other miscreants”
  • Data for the first time shows the extent of the detentions

SRINAGAR/NEW DELHI: Authorities in Indian administered Kashmir have arrested nearly 4,000 thousand people since the scrapping of its special status last month, government data shows, the most clear evidence yet of the scale of one of the disputed region's biggest crackdowns.
Muslim-majority Kashmir, claimed by both India and Pakistan, has been in turmoil since India stripped its portion of the region of its autonomy and statehood on Aug. 5, leading to clashes between security forces and residents and inflaming tension with Pakistan.
India said the removal of the status that its part of Kashmir has held since independence from Britain in 1947 would help integrate it into the Indian economy, to the benefit of all.
In an attempt to stifle the protests that the reform sparked in Kashmir, India cut internet and mobile services and imposed curfew-like restrictions in many areas.
It has also arrested more than 3,800 people, according to a government report dated Sept. 6 and seen by Reuters, though about 2,600 have since been released.
A spokeswoman for India's interior ministry did not respond to a request for comment. Neither did Jammu and Kashmir police.
It was not clear on what basis most of the people were being held but an Indian official said some were held under the Public Safety Act, a law in Jammu and Kashmir state that allows for detention for up to two years without charge.
The data for the first time shows the extent of the detentions, as well as indicating who was picked up and where.
More than 200 politicians, including two former chief ministers of the state, were arrested, along with more than 100 leaders and activists from an umbrella organisation of pro-separatist political groups.
The bulk of those arrested - more than 3,000 - were listed as "stone pelters and other miscreants". On Sunday, 85 detainees were shifted to a prison in Agra in northern India, a police source said.
Rights group Amnesty International said the crackdown was "distinct and unprecedented" in the recent history of the region and the detentions had contributed to "widespread fear and alienation".
"The communication blackout, security clampdown, and detention of the political leaders in the region has made it worse," said Aakar Patel, head of Amnesty International India.

'RIGHT TO LIFE'
India says the detentions are necessary to maintain order and prevent violence, and points to the relatively limited number of casualties compared with previous bouts of unrest.
The government says only one person is confirmed to have died compared with dozens in 2016 when the killing of a militant leader sparked widespread violence.
"The right to life is the most important human right," India's national security adviser Ajit Doval told reporters recently.
The report contains data from the 13 police districts that make up the Kashmir Valley, the most populous part of the Himalayan region where the main city of Srinagar is located.
The largest number of arrests have been in Srinagar, the data shows, at nearly 1,000. Earlier unrest often centered in rural areas.
Of the detained political leaders, more than 80 were from the People's Democratic Party, formerly in coalition in Jammu and Kashmir state with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
About 70 are from the National Conference, which has for years dominated politics in Indian administered Kashmir, and more than a dozen from India's main opposition Congress party.
Police also arrested more than 150 people accused of association with militant groups fighting Indian rule.
An Indian official said it was likely that more than 1,200 people were still held, including all the high-profile politicians and separatists mentioned in the report, while dozens more are being arrested every day.
In the 24 hours before the report was compiled, more than two dozen people were arrested, mainly on suspicion of throwing stones at troops, the data showed.
The data did not include those under informal house arrest, nor people detained in a round-up of separatists that began in February after a bomb attack by a Pakistan-based militant group on Indian troops.
Days before India's move to strip Kashmir of special status, one prominent separatist leader told Reuters that more than 250 people with links to the movement were already in detention.
 


Pakistan’s KP province to sterilize stray dogs, say officials

Updated 15 November 2019

Pakistan’s KP province to sterilize stray dogs, say officials

  • The provincial administration previously killed these animals, but the practice was banned by a court that called it inhumane
  • The overall project to deal with stray dogs may cost about Rs50 million

PESHAWAR: Following a volley of citizen complaints, the Water and Sanitation Services Peshawar (WSSP) in the country’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province has decided to start sterilizing thousands of stray dogs to cease their reproduction soon after the completion of the first-ever census of these animals by next week, an official said on Friday.
“Backed by thousands of staff, a comprehensive survey of stray dogs in Peshawar will be completed by coming Monday which will then set the sterilization process of these canines in motion,” Hassan Ai, media manager at the WSSP, told Arab News.
He added the provincial government previously killed stray dogs but a court verdict banned the practice, calling it inhumane.
After a series of meetings and deliberations, the WSSP, in coordination with other departments, reached a sterilization mechanism which would prevent dogs from breeding further and reduce the danger of them biting the general public.
Dr. Syed Masoom Ali, district director of the Livestock Department, told Arab News his team would carry out the sterilization and vaccination process for stray dogs.
“The male dogs will be surgically neutered while the female dogs will undergo spaying surgeries. The dogs will be tagged with microchips and a ribbon will also be tied to their collars to identify them after vaccination and sterilization,” he added.
Dr. Ali said a spacious location had been identified outside the city where these stray dogs would be kept for four days after necessary medical formalities.
The WSSP surged to action after it received an overwhelming number of citizen complaints through an app, Safa Pekhawar (Clean Peshawar), regarding stray dogs in the city.
Depending on the success of the drive, the provincial government could think about extending the program to other big cities of the province as well, said the WSSP media manager.
The vaccination of one dog, he said, would cost Rs2500. The vaccinated animals, he continued, would be kept in a solitary place for 15 days, adding that a rough estimate suggested that the project would cost Rs50 million.
“It is premature to say about the number of stray dogs in Peshawar city, but a ballpark estimate suggests it has surged to 15000,” Hassan Ali said.