Amid expanding protests, UN chief keeping situation in Indian-occupied Kashmir under close watch

UNITED NATIONS, Aug 28 (APP):As mass protests erupted in curfew-bound Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir on Wednesday, a UN spokesman said Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was “closely” monitoring the grave crisis in the disputed region as he renewed his appeal for restraint.

“The Secretary-General and his whole team have been following this very closely, not only the political situation, the situation related to reports of restrictions and detentions on the Indian side of the Line of Control,” Spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters at the regular noon briefing at UN Headquarters in New York.

The spokesman, who was responding to a question, said the UN chief met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the G-7 Summit in Biarritz, France, and spoke to Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi by phone over the weekend to discuss the situation arising from the India’s annexation of occupied Kashmir.

“For him (Guterres) it is important that the leadership of both India and Pakistan exercise restraint and take steps to defuse tension,” he said. “So he is following this and delivering his message as I said both publicly and privately.”

According to media reports, at least 500 incidents of protest have broken out in occupied Kashmir since New Delhi stripped the region of its autonomy and imposed a military clampdown more than three weeks ago.

The Himalayan valley is under a strict lockdown, imposed hours before India’s decision to bring Kashmir under its direct rule. Movement is restricted, and phone and Internet services have been cut.

The lockdown, as well as the deployment of tens of thousands of extra troops to the occupied Kashmir, was ordered amid fears of unrest in a region where an armed struggle against Indian rule has been waged since 1989.

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