By Fayaz Bukhari
SRINAGAR, India (Reuters) – Indian Kashmir authorities tightened restrictions on popular movements on Saturday to avert possible protests triggered by a speech by Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Khan, in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Friday, warned that there would be a bloodbath when India lifted its restrictions on Kashmir, which have been in force since revoking the region's decades-old autonomy in August and detaining thousands of people. people.
Soon after the speech, hundreds of Kashmiris left their homes, shouting slogans in support of Khan on Friday night and calling for Kashmir independence.
Speaker-equipped police vans made public announcements in some parts of Srinagar about restrictions on movement on Saturday, while additional troops were sent to prevent protests, officials and two witnesses said.
The troops also blocked access to Srinagar's main shopping center with barbed wire.
"This was necessary after protests in Srinagar city last night, right after Imran Khan's speech," said one police officer, who declined to be named.
Kashmir, mostly Muslim, has been a flash point between India and Pakistan, with nuclear weapons, which fought two of its three wars across divided territory. Both countries govern parts of Kashmir while fully claiming it.
India's crackdown on revoking Kashmir's special status was accompanied by severe restrictions on movement and disconnection of telephone services. Although New Delhi has eased some of the movement restrictions, no prominent prisoners have been released and mobile and Internet connections remain suspended.
While warning of the consequences of suspending what he described as an "inhuman curfew", Pakistani Prime Minister Khan demanded that India do so and release all detainees.
In some areas of Kashmir – including the Soura region near Srinagar, which has in the past witnessed protests against India's decision – people clashed with security forces throwing stones late on Friday, forcing police to use tear gas to disperse them, said the Indian. official.
Khan addressed the United Nations a day after the senior South Asian diplomat called for a reduction in rhetoric between India and Pakistan, while saying Washington expected to see swift action by India to lift restrictions on Kashmir and liberation. of detainees there. (Additional reporting by Devjyot Ghoshal; Aditya Kalra & Kim Coghill edition)
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