The Indian government, which has grown weary of the region’s persistent violence, has argued that it can better guarantee individual rights by taking firm control and said it has a plan to reinvigorate the regional economy. Officials in Kashmir did not respond to requests for comment.
Nirmal Singh, a top leader of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and former deputy chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, the formal name for the India-controlled territory, said officials want to curb the separatist activities that have long flourished in the Kashmir valley.
“Be it poets or anyone else, questioning India’s territorial integrity will not be allowed. If you speak about azadi or Pakistan, that will not be allowed,” said Mr. Singh, referring to the Kashmir term for independence. “You can speak anything within the limits of the Indian constitutional framework. Nobody will be stopped.”
Local officials have taken a tough stance on where those limits lie. Journalists are told what to write, and some have been barred from flying out of the country. The police have threatened to slap antiterrorism charges on reporters who tweet about conditions there.
Since 2019, more than 2,300 people have been jailed under stringent sedition and antiterrorism laws, which criminalized such activities as raising slogans or posting political messages on social media, according to one Indian media outlet.
Even peaceful protests are quickly stopped by police. On Aug. 5, the second anniversary of India’s crackdown, many Kashmiri shopkeepers locked their doors in protest. Then in Srinagar, Kashmir’s summer capital, plainclothes men armed with long iron rods and blades began cutting the locks on the doors and gates of shuttered shops, forcing owners to return.