Police in India-administered Kashmir allegedly threaten businesses of consequences if they observe a strike called by a top pro-freedom leader on August 5, the second anniversary of India's annexation of Muslim-majority region.

Police arrive at the site of a shootout at a street in Khanyar area of downtown Srinagar, on August 3, 2021, in which reportedly a policeman and a civilian were wounded after a rebel attack.
Police arrive at the site of a shootout at a street in Khanyar area of downtown Srinagar, on August 3, 2021, in which reportedly a policeman and a civilian were wounded after a rebel attack. (AFP)

Indian police in disputed Kashmir have allegedly warned traders and businesses against observing a shutdown called by a top pro-freedom leader to mark the second anniversary of India's annexation of the troubled Himalayan region, traders and local media said.

Syed Ali Geelani, 91, who has spent the better part of the past decade under detention at his residence in the capital Srinagar, tweeted on Wednesday that August 5 [Thursday] this year will mark the completion of the two years of the disputed region's "aggressive, illegal and immoral" merger into the Indian Union.

“While the entire world was struggling with the Covid-19 pandemic, the Indian government has introduced laws during these two years to convert the Muslim majority into a minority," Geelani tweeted.

He also asked Kashmiri Hindus, who had migrated en masse at the onset of the anti-India revolt in 1990, not to resettle in separate colonies the Indian government plans to build for them. 

He said they are part of the Kashmiri society and must live together with the majority. 

Ahead of Geelani's strike call, police warned of action against the violators, saying "this is the decision of the government and they have to support it," local news website Kashmir Walla reported. 

"We called them (traders) to tell them that we do not want hartals [shutdowns]. All people should go towards normalcy … whether it is August 5, 13 July or other anniversaries are not to be observed," the news website quoted a top police official as saying.

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Traders threatened of consequences 

"Police on Tuesday told our market’s president that shops should remain open on Thursday. If someone fails to do so, he will be himself responsible for the consequences," a trader told Hindustan Times newspaper.

"August 5 is a day when our special status was snatched away from us. Our conscience won't allow us to open shops," he said.

Pro-freedom leader Geelani also called for a strike on August 15, India's independence day.

He said Kashmiris have been traditionally observing India's independence day as the "Black Day" but this year people should turn it into an "awareness day" and inform the world about "India's naked aggression and its nefarious designs on Kashmir".

Soon after the call for the strike appeared on Twitter, Indian police said they would "take action" against anyone circulating Geelani's tweet, which it called "fake", under an anti-terror law.

A contingent of police and paramilitary troopers stationed outside Geelani's residence has virtually left him incommunicado. The police do not let anyone, except the leader's family or close relatives, inside the house.

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Disputed region

Tensions have been high between Pakistan and India since New Delhi unilaterally changed the semi-autonomous status of the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir, which is split between Pakistan and India but claimed by both in its entirety.

Pakistan has reduced diplomatic ties with India since then, vowing there will be no peace talks with India until the 2019 move under which New Delhi divided the Indian-administered part of the Muslim-majority Kashmir into two federally governed territories — Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh — is reversed by the Indian government.

Pakistan also wants Kashmiri people to be given the right to self-determination under a 1948 UN resolution that called for a referendum on whether Kashmiris wanted to merge with Pakistan or India.

The future of Muslim-majority Kashmir was left unresolved at the end of British colonial rule in 1947, when the Indian subcontinent was divided into predominantly Hindu India and mainly Muslim Pakistan. 

India has an estimated 700,000 soldiers in India-administered Kashmir, fighting nearly a dozen rebel groups since 1989.

More than 70,000 people, most of them civilians, have been killed in the conflict.

The two countries have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir since gaining independence.

READ MORE: UN chief urges India to end ‘grave violations’ against Kashmiri children

Source: TRTWorld and agencies