India vows to ease Kashmir clampdown as clashes with Pakistan continue

Ben Farmer
Indian soldiers patrol the deserted street during the official celebration of India's Independence day in Srinagar,Kashmir on August 15, 2019. - Anadolu

India and Pakistan continued to fire across their disputed frontier in Kashmir, as Delhi said it would soon relax a security crackdown and communications blackout in the region.

Pakistan said one of its soldiers had been killed, bringing the death toll to six in less than 24 hours.

The United Nations Security Council is due to hold rare discussions on the situation in Kashmir later on Friday, after India abolished its special status and enforced the strictest clampdown in the troubled region in years.

Telephone and internet links were cut and public assembly banned earlier this months, just before Delhi removed autonomy for the Muslim-majority territory. Hundreds of political leaders and activists remain under detention.

As India's Supreme Court heard a petition from a newspaper editor seeking to restore communication links so journalists can work, government lawyer Tushar Mehta said forces planned to lift the curbs over the "next few days,” Reuters reported.

Indian channel NDTV, citing unnamed sources, said schools will likely open on Monday. Strict curfews remained in place on Friday to prevent protest after prayers.

Narendra Modi, India's prime minister, has said the abolition of Kashmir's self rule was necessary to speed up its development and ensure its full integration into India.

India and Pakistan have clashed over the territory since Independence in 1947, with their two militaries facing off over a heavily militarised line of control dividing the region in two.

The information wing of Pakistan's military said on Friday “another brave son of soil lost his life in the line of duty" in Buttal town in an exchange of fire.

Pakistan had earlier said three soldiers and two civilians died on Thursday. Islamabad has lobbied the international community to act after Delhi's revocation of Kashmir's status. The UN meeting will be held behind closed doors and stops short of the full emergency meeting Pakistan had hoped for.