India promises to ease Kashmir curfew as Pakistan accuses New Delhi government of ‘ethnic cleansing’

Indian security forces said they had eased a week-long curfew and restrictions on movement in Kashmir ahead of a major Muslim festival on Monday.

The move came as police denied carrying out a violent crackdown against protesters in the region, despite the emergence of footage showing troops firing into a crowd.

Jammu and Kashmir police said on Sunday that “not a single bullet had been fired in the last six days” and called the reports “mischievous and motivated news”. They claimed the protests were small and peaceably broken up.

Earlier the BBC broadcast footage apparently showing officers firing tear gas and live rounds at a crowd of 10,000 protesters after Friday prayers in the city of Srinagar.  

The BBC stood by its report, while the New York Times and India Today said its journalists had corroborated the incident.   

Jammu and Kashmir has been under a media, internet and phone blackout since Narendra Modi’s Indian government revoked the Muslim-majority region’s special constitutional status on August 5.

A curfew enforced by thousands of Indian troops has made movement and reporting in the region difficult.

The move has provoked outrage in Pakistan, which has fought two major wars with India over the disputed territory since independence.

Imran Khan, the prime minister of Pakistan, on Sunday accused the Indian government of pursing “ethnic cleansing” comparable to Hitler’s annexation of Czechoslovakia.

Describing the move as “the Hindu Supremacists version of Hitler’s Lebensraum”, he said it would lead to “the suppression of Muslims in India & eventually lead to targeting of Pakistan”.

“Attempt is to change demography of Kashmir through ethnic cleansing,” he tweeted. “Question is: Will the world watch & appease as they did Hitler at Munich?

Dilbag Singh, the Jammu and Kashmir police chief, on Sunday said the curfew had been eased ahead of the Muslims festival of Eid ul-adha today.   

“Things are absolutely normal, not a single incident has been reported from south Kashmir even,” Mr Singh told the Hindustan Times.

“We are closely watching the situation,” he said.

Mr Singh said there were incidents of stone throwing in downtown Srinagar on Saturday, but insisted that any report of violence in the region “is false”.

The New Delhi government on Sunday said deliveries of food and supplies were active again to Kashmir, and banks and stores were being restocked ahead of Eid.

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