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Police: Thousands held in Kashmir crackdown

SRINAGAR, India — At least 2,300 people, mostly young men, have been detained in Indian-administered Kashmir during a security lockdown and communications blackout imposed to curtail unrest after New Delhi stripped the disputed region of statehood, according to top Kashmir police and arrest statistics reviewed by The Associated Press.

Those arrested include anti-India protesters as well as pro-India Kashmiri leaders who have been held in jails and other makeshift facilities, according to three police officials.

The officials have access to all police records but spoke on the condition of anonym­ity because they weren’t authorized to talk to reporters and feared reprisals from superiors.

The crackdown began just before Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist-led government on Aug. 5 stripped Jammu and Kashmir of its semi-autonomy and its statehood, creating two federal territories.

Thousands of Indian troops have been sent into the Kashmir Valley, already one of the world’s most militarized regions, to man checkpoints. Telephone communications, cellphone coverage, broadband internet and cable TV services were cut, although some have been gradually restored in places.

Kashmiris have staged protests and clashed with police since the crackdown, with about 300 demonstrations against India’s tighter control over Kashmir, the three officials said.

One of the officials said most of the arrests have been in Srinagar, Kashmir’s main city and the heart of a 30-year-old movement to oust Hindu-majority India from Muslim-majority Kashmir so that it can exist independently or be merged with Pakistan.

Both India and Pakistan claim the disputed territory of Kashmir in its entirety, but each controls only part of it. Kashmir’s special status was instituted shortly after India achieved independence from Britain in 1947.