NEW Delhi: Indian authorities said they had detained three political leaders in Kashmir because they were a threat to peace, with the Muslim-majority region under lockdown following an explosive government move to revoke its special autonomy.
The three were moved to an official guest house on Monday, according to a court order, the same day as the announcement in New Delhi that Kashmir’s special status under the constitution had been removed.
“Your activities are likely to cause breach of peace keeping into consideration your recent activities that may likely lead to a serious law and order situation,” said the order that allowed the transfer, which was obtained by Agence France-Presse on Tuesday.
Former chief ministers Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah, along with regional party leader Sajad Lone, had initially been placed under house arrest on the weekend as a huge security clampdown was put into force ahead of the controversial decree.
Kashmir remained virtually cut off from the outside world for a second day Tuesday, with phone and internet links cut and thousands of troops enforcing a curfew.
The order also said authorities feared the trio would organise a public rally, which is currently banned in Kashmir as part of the emergency lockdown.
The magistrate’s order did not make specific criminal charges. Before being moved, Mufti took to Twitter to say that ending Kashmir’s special status had reduced “India to an occupation force in Jammu and Kashmir.”
Monday’s decree, rushed through by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government, removed from the constitution the special status that Kashmir had held since India’s independence in 1947 when the region was divided between India and Pakistan.
The changes ended special privileges for Kashmiris in regards to owning property and reserved jobs.
Pakistan, India’s nuclear-armed neighbor with which it has fought two wars over Kashmir, immediately condemned the move.
In a related development, Pakistan is bracing for massive protests a day after India stripped the disputed Kashmir region of its special autonomy in a controversial move that Islamabad has branded as “illegal.”
Demonstrations were set to kick off in the early afternoon with protests planned in Muzaffarabad, the largest city in Pakistani-held Kashmir, alongside rallies in Lahore, Karachi and the capital Islamabad.
Pakistani lawmakers also began a joint-session of parliament to discuss a possible response to Delhi’s move, while a separate meeting by Pakistan’s top military commanders was planned in the garrison city of Rawalpindi.
It also moved a bill proposing the Indian-administered part of the Himalayan region be divided into two regions directly ruled by New Delhi.
The move is set to exacerbate the already bloody rebellion in Kashmir and deepen the long-running animosity with nuclear rival Pakistan, which has fought two out of three wars with India over the territory.
Ahead of the announcements, tens of thousands of extra Indian troops were deployed in the territory, and a security lockdown was imposed overnight Sunday, with all telecommunications there cut.
Editorials and social media in Pakistan were buzzing over Modi’s decision, with the English daily Dawn running a large headline on its front page reading: “New Delhi sheds fig leaf, robs held Kashmir of special status.”