No Kashmiri flag or constitution under Indian-imposed changes
Last Thursday India formally implemented legislation approved by Parliament in early August that removes Indian-controlled Kashmir's semi-autonomous status and begins direct federal rule of the disputed area amid a harsh security lockdown and widespread public disenchantment.
The legislation divides the former state of Jammu-Kashmir into two federally governed territories.
Government forces were on high alert to prevent anti-India protests or rebel attacks. Tens of thousands of police and paramilitary soldiers fanned out across the region, patrolling streets and manning checkpoints. Shops, schools and businesses have mostly remained closed since August and streets were largely deserted.
Authorities have eased some restrictions, lifting roadblocks and restoring landlines and some mobile phone services since 5 August. They have encouraged students to return to school and businesses to reopen, but Kashmiris have largely stayed home, in defiance or fear amid threats of violence.
G.C. Murmu, a new civilian administrator appointed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government with the title of lieutenant governor, assumed office on Thursday. The region previously was headed by a governor.
Barricades and books in restive Kashmir neighbourhood
Anchar, a densely-populated, working-class area of Srinagar, is a pocket of resistance to India's revocation in early August of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, the country's only Muslim-majority state. By Danish Siddiqui
Few people step outside Anchar, a neighbourhood ringed by steel barricades and razor wire in Indian Kashmir, where police have imposed a weeks-long region-wide clampdown to stifle protests
As night falls, groups of youths, many wearing masks and armed with stones and tree branches, are huddled around bonfires, sipping tea provided by neighbours. "I am spending the night outdoors so I can protect my family," said Fazil, a 16-year-old student. "There is no fear in me," he added, holding a thick tree branch as he watched the street from a checkpoint
Worshippers gathered in the mosque in Anchar for Friday prayers listen intently to Hayat Ahmed Bhat, a Kashmiri activist, prior to a street demonstration
Seven weeks since the clampdown and a degree of normalcy has returned. Telephone landlines are working again, though mobile and Internet networks remain suspended. Shops open briefly to allow people to restock supplies and traffic is back on Srinagar's streets. In Anchar, however, the situation remains tense
The neighbourhood is a no-go zone for security forces. Entrances to the area are guarded by young people manning barricades made of tree trunks, electricity poles and barbed wire to keep the police out. Laneways have been dug up to block security vehicles
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said Kashmir's special status, which allowed only residents to buy property and hold government jobs, restricted its development and encouraged a separatist revolt that has killed 40,000 people since 1989. Indian authorities have arrested nearly 4,000 people since the decision
With government services like schools still shut in Anchar, four college students have set up a makeshift school, giving lessons to 200 children for a few hours each day. "The education of students in this locality is suffering because of the turmoil. We won't let our future generations suffer," said Adil, a college student turned teacher
"Bullets and pellets every day": Anchar's female residents has also taken to the streets in recent weeks to protest the revocation of Kashmir's special status and the clampdown by Prime Minister Modi and his ruling Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party
Rubina's 15-year-old son was injured by pellets fired by security forces while he was returning home from Friday prayers. The boy's head is heavily bandaged and he hasn't spoken since the incident, but the family would rather treat him at home than take him to a city hospital, fearing he could be detained by police
"If he has to go out for a change of bandage to the nearby government hospital, he will be accompanied by six or seven women, so they don't snatch him away," Rubina said
More than seven weeks after the crackdown began, there is little sign of an end to the stand-off in this neighbourhood, home to some 15,000 people
Indian authorities also changed the name of the state-run radio station Radio Kashmir Srinagar to All India Radio Srinagar. The station started broadcasting even before India gained independence from British colonialists in 1947. Srinagar is the main city in Indian-controlled Kashmir.
The most visible change is the absence of Kashmir's own flag and constitution, which were eliminated as part of the region's new status. But the most contentious point for many people is the threat of land grabs by Indians outside the region with the formal abrogation of a clause in the Indian Constitution that safeguarded Kashmiris' exclusive right to land ownership.
"Everything changes on Thursday. From a state, we are reduced to a municipality," said a retired Kashmiri judge, Hasnain Masoodi, a member of India's Parliament. "The entire exercise is unconstitutional. The mode and methodology have been undemocratic. People were humiliated and never consulted."
Masoodi represents the National Conference, a powerful pro-India Kashmiri political group whose leaders have been detained.
Some other changes that have occurred since August:
Ahead of the biggest political change in Indian-administered Kashmir, authorities shut down Internet access, mobile and landline phone service and cable TV for the region's 12.5 million people.
The shutdown disrupted business and schools and demoralised the people.
With international pressure mounting to restore freedoms, authorities have begun easing the restrictions, lifting roadblocks and restoring landlines and some cell phone service. Authorities continue to limit Internet access, saying it is likely to be used by insurgents to organise anti-India protests and violence.
Protests and arrests
Despite a siege by tens of thousands of government forces, hundreds of anti-India protests and clashes have erupted across the region. Government forces have fired tear gas, shotguns and firearms to prevent stone-throwing protesters from marching in the streets, leaving at least three people dead and hundreds injured.
At least 4,000 people, mostly young men, had been arrested since the security lockdown was imposed in the first week of August. Indian officials say at least 3,000 have since been released.
About 250 of those still being held have been moved to various Indian jails outside Kashmir. Records show that about 300 of those are being held under the Public Safety Act, which allows authorities to detain people for up to two years without trial.
Rayees Ahmad, a businessman, wondered how long India will be able to control Kashmir. "Time will prove that this situation will not remain," he said. "The world is watching."
Supreme Court battle
Kashmiri people's hopes rest with India's Supreme Court, which is set to begin hearings in early November on petitions challenging the validity of the abrogation of Article 370 of the constitution, which gave a special status to Kashmir. A decision is expected within several months.
What does Modi plan?
The Modi government says Kashmir's new status gives its people right that were denied to them under its past special status, including a right to education, a minimum wage law and statutes ensuring the rights of minorities.
Modi says an end to an anti-India insurgency would boost tourism in Kashmir, known for its stunning mountain vistas and encourage outside investment that would improve its economy.
Nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan both claim all of Kashmir and each controls part of the Himalayan region.
Pakistan has reacted strongly to the changes imposed by India in the area it administers by downgrading diplomatic relations with New Delhi and ending bilateral trade. It also has stopped train, bus and postal services.
Pakistan has vigorously raised the issue at the United Nations, international human rights organisations and other forums. It says it will continue to give moral and diplomatic support to Kashmiris opposed to Indian rule.
On Thursday, Pakistan rejected the downgrading of Indian-controlled Kashmir's semi-autonomy and said the Indian-imposed changes violate U.N. Security Council resolutions and agreements between India and Pakistan.
"The Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir is an internationally recognised disputed territory. No step by the government of India can change this. These changes are illegal and void as per the relevant UNSC resolutions and do not prejudice the right to self-determination of the people of occupied Jammu and Kashmir," Pakistan's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
India and Pakistan have fought two wars over control of Kashmir. (AP)