Friday, February 3, 2023

India arrests 75 people in Kashmir after local elections | India News

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The arrests came after an anti-Modi alliance won a majority of seats in local elections last week.

The Indian government has arrested at least 75 Kashmiri political leaders and activists to prevent political unrest after an alliance of regional Kashmiri political parties won local elections, leaders and a police official said on Saturday.

The District Development Council elections, concluded earlier this week, were the first local polls since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government revoked the special status of the Muslim-majority region last year.

New Delhi then cracked down on the opposition and rounded up hundreds to prevent protests and violence.

The latest detentions, which include separatist leaders and members of the banned Jamat-e-Islami group, were for pre-trial detention, said a senior police official, who asked not to be identified.

But Imran Nabi Dar, spokesperson for the National Conference, a regional party and a key member of the alliance, said the detentions undermined the people’s verdict.

Omar Abdullah, former chief minister and head of the National Conference, said the alliance’s victory shows that the Kashmiris have not accepted Modi’s decision to end Kashmir’s special status.

The Popular Alliance for the Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), which is pro-India but promotes self-governance in Kashmir, won 112 seats out of a total of 280 in the local elections, which were held in a staggered process. in eight phases from November 28 to December 19.

Prime Minister Modi’s Hindu Nationalist Party Bharatiya Janata (BJP) won 74 seats, only three of which were in the Kashmir Valley.

Indian authorities have maintained a tight grip on Kashmir since its revocation of autonomy in August 2019 and have arrested most of the separatist leaders, who in the past have called for a boycott of the elections.

New Delhi overturned Kashmir’s constitution, divided the region into two federal territories – Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir – and removed legacy protections over land and jobs.

Kashmir-based politicians said the election results made it clear that the people of Kashmir rejected last year’s decision.

Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan, with both claiming the region in its entirety.

The rebels have been fighting against Indian rule since 1989.

New Delhi accuses Pakistan of sponsoring Kashmiri separatist fighters, a charge Pakistan denies. Tens of thousands of civilians, combatants and government forces have been killed in the conflict.


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