Exclusive footage from the BBC showing scenes of protest, bordering on violence, in Jammu and Kashmir’s Srinagar has come in direct contradiction to the Central government’s claims that all is well in there.
Curfew was relaxed after five days on Friday in the lead up to Eid. While Reuters reported, “Indian police used tear gas and pellets to fight back at least 10,000 people protesting Delhi’s withdrawal of special rights for Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir state in its main city of Srinagar on Friday, a police official and two witnesses said.”
However, the government has insisted – tweeting a rejoinder at noon on Saturday, August 10 – that only small squabbles took place, with less than twenty people involved in each.
Now, the BBC has released exclusive footage of what it claims were Friday’s protests in Soura, Srinagar. BBC’s footage shows a gathering of hundreds of protesters on the streets and at a meeting. According to BBC correspondent Amir Pirzada, the initially peaceful protest turned violent after clashes with security forces. Going by the video, tear gas, pellets and live rounds were also fired.
State-run media channels as well as news agency ANI have released rounds of videos attempting to bolster the claim of uniform peace. Prasar Bharti and DD News released footage showing prayers, people lining up to use ATMs, and scenes of everyday activity.
Dismissing the news of protests as fake, Prasar Bharti tweeted, “It’s business as usual in Srinagar.” Urdu and English dailies had resumed publication, it added.
ANI, meanwhile, posted a video of tranquil scenes from Srinagar.
BBC’s Pirzada said the situation remained tense in Srinagar. The BBC said its team attempted to visit Soura on Saturday morning but found the roads blocked – some by angry demonstrators, and others by Central Reserve Police Force Personnel. According to local media, five people were injured in Friday’s clashes, but the BBC could not confirm this information with authorities.
“Kashmir is under siege at the moment,” a lawyer living in Pulwama told the BBC. “The moment it’s lifted, trouble will start. Once the political and separatist leaders are freed from detention or house arrest, there will be calls for protests and people will come out.”