The Pakistani prime minister, Imran Khan, has likened the Indian government to Nazis, warning that global inaction over Kashmir would be the same as appeasing Hitler.
His comments came as authorities in Indian-administered Kashmirreportedly reimposed some curfew rules in parts of the territory, following an easing of restrictions in Srinagar, the region’s main city, that had allowed people to visit shops over the weekend and attend Friday prayers. TV news showed footage of jeeps fitted with loudspeakers moving in the region on Sunday afternoon, telling people to return to their homes and shopkeepers to shut markets. Landlines, mobile phones and the internet all remain blocked, preventing residents from calling relatives or friends.
It was not clear if people would be allowed to leave their homes for Monday’s Eid-al-Adha festival, one of the biggest celebrations of the year in Kashmir.
The state has been in lockdown since Monday, when the Indian government announced it would revoke its autonomy and rules that prevent outsiders from buying land in the territory. Many Kashmiris fear the move would alter the demography of India’s only Muslim-majority state and its traditions.
Despite heavy security, hundreds of people protested in Srinagar on Sunday where they chanted “What do we want? Freedom! When do we want it? Now!”. On Sunday, Khan said on Twitter: “Attempt is to change demography of Kashmir through ethnic cleansing. Question is: Will the world watch & appease as they did Hitler at Munich?”
The Pakistani prime minister added that the “ideology of Hindu supremacy, like the Nazi Aryan supremacy, will not stop” in Kashmir, but would lead to “the suppression of Muslims in India & eventually lead to targeting of Pakistan”.
Khan has vowed to lobby heads of states and take his complaints to the UN, though the response has so far been muted. On Sunday, he telephoned Iranian President Hassan Rouhani “as part of his outreach to world leaders on the Kashmir situation”, according to a statement issued by his office.
Rouhani was quoted as saying that Muslims of Kashmir “must be able to use their legal rights and interests to be able to live in peace.”
Ufra Mir, a peace psychologist from Kashmir who has provided psycho-social support to as many as 200 Kashmiris who are living away from home, said: “This fear of uncertainty and this sense of not knowing what’s going to happen – this is what is really stressing people out, giving them anxiety and panic attacks.”
Over the past week she has counselled people through phone calls, social media and through a Whatsapp group.
Many of those unable to contact their families were students away from Kashmir for the first time, she added. “They were supposed to go back home but now they don’t even know if they should. A lot of them have run out of money.” Mir flew back on Sunday because she wanted to support her family. “I don’t know the space I will be going back to. I definitely know that it won’t be the same, it won’t be the same space that I left,” she said.
A few people in Kashmir have managed to secure access to a working phone to reassure family members. Mir Mushtaq, who is working in Delhi, said that his relatives called three days ago. “My mother was consistently crying. She asked me to come there and be with her,” he said.
Normally, he would spend Eid with family, distributing the meat of a sacrificed goat door-to-door in Pulwama, where he would visit between 100 and 180 families.
He decided to stay in Delhi to raise awareness. “My motherland is in danger. What will I do there, lock myself in a room?”
The communication blocks and curfew in Kashmir, which prevented people from leaving their homes for almost five days last week, were apparently intended to stop unrest, resulting in little concrete information as to what is happening in Kashmir.
Restrictions on movement were lifted for the first time on Friday to allow people to attend local mosques for prayers. Afterwards, police reportedly opened fire and used teargas to break up demonstrations of at least 10,000 people who took to the streets to protest Delhi’s actions. An Indian home affairs ministry official denied the reports, and said there had been only a few stray protests of no more than 20 people. However, the BBC later released a video appearing to show huge crowds marching through the streets of Srinagar, as well as police opening fire and using teargas.
Delhi’s decision to scrap Kashmir’s special status not only faces major resistance in the territory, but has also escalated tensions with Pakistan and been condemned by China.
Pakistan said that with the support of China, it would take up India’s actions in Kashmir with the UN security council and that it may approach the UN human rights commission over what it has described as the “genocide” of the Kashmiri people.
Pakistan last week expelled the Indian high commissioner and halted trade. The country’s army chief warned that his forces would take any action to stand by Kashmiris.
India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, has insisted that the removal of Kashmir’s special status would bring investment and rid the state of terrorism.