AP Photos: Indian lockdown upends Kashmir children’s lives
SRINAGAR, India (AP) — As India-controlled Kashmir reels under an unprecedented lockdown, children remain the most affected. The crisis has upended the education of millions of children in the disputed Himalayan region, and many have been caught up in street violence.
Frustration, anger and fear have been growing in Kashmir since Aug. 5, when the Hindu nationalist-led government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi stripped the region of its semi-autonomous status and imposed a curfew and a communications blackout.
The government deployed thousands of troops to the already heavily militarized region to quell potential dissent. It also cut off internet access, put politicians under house arrest and shut down schools.
Although some restrictions have been eased in the main city of Srinagar, schools in the region remain closed.
The authorities encouraged students to return to school but parents have largely been unwilling to send their children back because of the restrictions that remain in place.
Instead, hundreds of children have found refuge in dozens of makeshift schools that have popped up in homes and religious centers.
Reports from the region also suggest that children — some as young as 14 — have been injured in actions by government forces.
Authorities have detained scores of teenagers to prevent them from joining or organizing new protests.
On Sept. 20, the Supreme Court directed the Jammu and Kashmir High Court’s Juvenile Justice Committee to investigate allegations of illegal detention of children by security forces.
Nobel Prize laureate and Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai has urged the U.N. to help Kashmiri children return to school.
The Kashmir region is also claimed by Pakistan and is divided between the two nuclear-armed neighbors by a heavily militarized Line of Control.