Kashmir Lockdown So Total That Many Still Don't Know Autonomy Was Revoked

Local reports are describing a total communications blackout in Indian states Jammu and Kashmir that's so bad many don't even know New Delhi revoked the region's political autonomy early this week. The region has essentially been cut off from the rest of the country and the outside world, with a security blockade and checkpoints also set up by the military. 

Preceding Monday's unprecedented revocation of the over 50-year old constitutional Article 370 which gave Indian-administered Kashmir special autonomous status, a massive Indian troop surge had been observed entering the country's most restive and politically sensitive Muslim-majority region. 

Monday is also when a broad government-imposed internet, cellphone, and landline services shutdown went into effect, which has lasted all week. Various reports have described an Indian troop surge into the tens of thousands ostensibly to root out Islamic militants, with estimates putting it close to 40,000 additional soldiers deployed

Security personnel stand guard on a deserted street in Jammu on Tuesday. Image source AFP

At least 300 local politicians and pro-independence activists have been detained, many under house arrest, by security services, Reuters reported. Any public assemblies or events have also been outlawed, essentially tantamount to martial law in Indian-administered Kashmir, with schools and local government buildings shuttered.

Local news services have ceased functioning, and there's growing concern that medical access is increasingly unavailable, with people unable to call for ambulances or contact doctors during emergencies. According to a Time report, this has left "some 7 million people stranded without any way to contact family and friends."

The Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata leadership in New Delhi, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, revoked J&K's status quo ability and rights to maintain their own local governance, which also included laws preventing non-Kashmiris from buying property.

Astoundingly, Time reported that the information blackout is so all encompassing many Kashmiris still don't know about it nearly a week later:

But few Kashmiris will know about that. Many of them will not even know that on Monday morning, Indian Home Minister Amit Shah announced to Parliament that the Indian government would strip their state of the special status that it held under the Indian Constitution for the last 70 years.

Pakistan's Prime Minister Khan, meanwhile, suggested in an address to parliament this week that there's a "risk of genocide" as India's army initiates its clamp down.

Pakistan has also declared itself ready to support Kashmiris with "all possible options" at a moment which the two nuclear armed rivals and neighbors along the volatile 'Line of Control' could be again hurtling toward direct conflict. 

"Kashmir has been turned invisible even inside Kashmir," Muzamil Jaleel, an Indian Express editor summarized of the dire situation this week.