India withdraws partial autonomy in Srinagar

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SRINAGAR, India, Aug 5 - Troops patrolled the streets on Thursday in Srinagar, the second capital of Indian Kashmir, where shops were shut to mark the first year since the Himalayan region was stripped of its autonomy.

In 2019, to bind the restive region closer to the rest of India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government withdrew long-standing constitutional privileges accorded to the country's only Muslim-majority state Jammu and Kashmir.

The measure also divided Kashmir into two remote territories, including the federal Ladakh region, which further angered Buddhists.

Troops carried out security checks in parts of Srinagar, which has been a hotbed of separatist activity, carrying out security checks on people and vehicles, witnesses said.

However, Kashmir's police chief, Vijay Kumar, told Reuters that no extra security measures had been levied, adding that conditions were normal including Internet links, often severed in the past to prevent protests.

His surveillance system was enhanced but without giving details, he added.

Militants have battled India's rule in Kashmir for more than three decades, a revolt it blames Pakistan for having stoked. Islamabad denies this, saying it provides only moral and diplomatic support for Kashmiri people.

In the Islamabad city, President Arif Alvi led a solidarity rally inside parliament house and demanded that India restore Kashmiris' rights.

I warn India not to share fire with the people and give Kashmiris their due rights, which has been pledged by the United Nations, he said.

A grouping of political parties in Kashmir, the Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration, said it would keep its struggle for restoration of partial autonomy.

However, a Minister in Modi's office, Jitendra Singh, said Kashmir would be better off fully integrated with India where its special laws had resulted in an unhealthy divide.

Today, such distinctions are history, he wrote in the Indian Express newspaper.