September 18, 2019
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India begins gradual easing of restrictions in Kashmir

New Delhi, Aug 17 (efe-epa).- The Indian authorities on Saturday began easing restrictions that were imposed on the telecommunication lines in Jammu and Kashmir nearly two weeks ago following New Delhi's decision to revoke the special status of the region.

"Today we have made certain exchanges functional, tomorrow we will make certain other exchanges functional. As it has been emphasized it is a calibrated process but the movement is certainly in the direction of certain easing," Jammu and Kashmir Principal Secretary Rohit Kansal said during a press conference.

The easing of the telecommunications blockade in Kashmir Valley for the moment is limited to landlines.

Kansal added that: "Landlines and mobiles are already functional in Jammu.We've also opened up mobile internet with some functionality in at least 5 districts."

He further said that more restrictions will be eased out over the weekend, before schools and government institutions open on Monday.

The blockade in the Muslim-majority region has been imposed since Aug. 4, including restriction on public gatherings and a complete blockade on telecommunication lines.

The Indian government justified the action alleging terror threats in the region.

However, a day after, the Indian government presented a bill to revoke Article 370, a constitutional provision that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir for more than seventy years.

The decision led to protests in Kashmir, although the central government repeatedly denied it and carried out preventive detentions.

Pakistan, which has claimed sovereignty over the region and has fought two wars for it with its neighbor, responded to India's decision by "downgrading" diplomatic relations between the two countries and called for the Kashmir issue to be discussed at the United Nations Security Council. EFE-EPA

daa/sk/sh

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