0545 GMT January 18, 2020
Foreign Ministry spokesman Seyyed Abbas Mousavi said on Tuesday that Tehran is worried about the “tough security condition” for civilians in the disputed Kashmir region and restrictions imposed by New Delhi on Muslim religious rituals, according to the Foreign Ministry’s official website.
He further urged Indian officials to take measures towards returning the situation in Kashmir to normal as soon as possible and make sure that people would be able to exercise their “natural and recognized rights.”
Recently, Indian authorities imposed security restrictions in Kashmir, fearing massive protests after Prime Minister Narendra Modi ended the Himalayan region’s seven decades of autonomy.
Over the past few days, large parts of Kashmir have remained cut off from the rest of the world amid a communications blackout, with no regular Internet, mobile phone, or fixed-line links working.
Indian troops have also been patrolling the streets where they have set up barbed wire barricades.
Residents of Indian-administered Kashmir were running short of essentials on Tuesday as the unprecedented security lockdown kept people indoors for a ninth day, AP reported.
The reaction to India’s unprecedented move has so far been largely subdued. But anti-India protests and clashes have occurred daily, mostly as soldiers withdraw from the streets at dusk. Though the scale of the lockdown is unprecedented, civil resistance to Indian rule is not uncommon in Kashmir, and young men have hurled stones and abuse at police and soldiers.
The lockdown is expected to last at least through Thursday, India’s Independence Day.
Kashmiris fear that India’s move to put the region under greater New Delhi control will alter its demographics and cultural identity.
India said its decision to revoke Kashmir’s special constitutional status and downgrade it from statehood to a territory would free it from separatism.
Pro-independence fighters have been fighting Indian rule for decades. Some 70,000 people have died in clashes between the fighters and civilian protesters and Indian security forces since 1989. Most Kashmiris want either independence or a merger with Pakistan.
Kashmir is split between India and Pakistan and is claimed by both in its entirety. The nuclear-armed rivals have fought two wars over it. The first ended in 1948 with the region divided and a promise of a UN-sponsored referendum on its future. It has never been held.
Pakistan has denounced the recent changes as illegal and has downgraded its diplomatic ties with New Delhi, expelled the Indian ambassador and suspended trade and train services.