Pak halts train service to India, bans films

Vastavam web: Pakistan halted its main train service to India on Thursday and banned Indian films as it exerted diplomatic pressure on New Delhi for revoking the special status of Kashmir, the region at the heart of 70 years of hostility between them. Seeking to tighten its grip over the contested region, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government this week withdrew Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir’s right to frame its own laws and allowed people from outside the state to buy property there.

The federal government also broke up the state into two federal territories to allow it greater control, a move that regional leaders said was a further humiliation. Kashmir remained under a communications blackout on Thursday with mobile networks and internet services suspended and at least 300 politicians and separatists in detention to prevent protests, according to police, media and political leaders. “Pakistan is looking at political, diplomatic and legal options,” Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told a news conference in Islamabad, though he ruled out a new military conflict.

“We’re not looking at the military option. We’re not,” he said. The nuclear rivals have twice gone to war over Kashmir and fought an aerial duel in February. Guterres was “concerned over reports of restrictions on Indian-side of Kashmir,” and warned that such actions could “exacerbate the human rights situation in region,” Guterres’ spokesman Stéphane Dujarric said in a statement.

India said changing the status of Kashmir was an internal affair and aimed at developing the region where it has battled an insurgency for 30 years. Modi addressed the nation on Thursday, saying the government will take steps to create more economic opportunities for the people of Kashmir. Trying to allay concerns the region would be governed from Delhi, he said elections to the state legislature would be held soon.

On Thursday, thousands of paramilitary police remained deployed in Kashmir’s largest city, Srinagar, schools shut and roads and neighbourhoods barricaded to stop public demonstrations against the sweeping changes. There have been sporadic protests, two police officers said, speaking on condition of anonymity. At least 13 people have been injured by stone-throwing across the city since Tuesday night, one officer said.

Srinagar’s old quarter was locked down, with policemen in riot gear deployed every few metres, and barbed-wire checkpoints every few hundred metres. Near the Jama Masjid, which has long been the centre of protests in Srinagar, bricks and rocks from recent stone-pelting incidents were strewn in at least three locations. “There is a lot of anger among the people,” one of the police officials said.