SRINAGAR, India—A loud voice brings a speaker installed on a mosque’s minaret to life, calling for the young to come out of their houses and stop the police from entering the neighborhood. Within minutes, a crowd gathers in the narrow streets of Soura, which lies on the banks of Anchar Lake here in the capital of Jammu and Kashmir.
This has been the scene every night since August 5, when the Indian government revoked Kashmir’s special status, downgraded its position as a state, and gave New Delhi a more direct role in its governance.
Amid the anxiety, the Kashmir valley is under an official lockdown: The Indian government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has suspended all communication channels, including the postal service. The streets are manned by paramilitary forces. Violence has been mostly restricted to dozens of stone-throwing incidents, though many protesters have been injured by pellets fired by security personnel. Kashmiris are anxious and enraged by the situation—and the communication blackout that has left them cut off from the rest of the world for the past 14 days.
In Soura, after the entreaties made on the mosque’s speakers, young men emerged from their multistory mud-brick houses to prepare their own cordon. They set up barricades at all entry and exit points. Overnight, they gathered logs, tin sheets, stones, and bricks; a few roads were dug up to stop police vehicles from entering. Residents took turns to keep vigil at night. On Monday, when Eid was marked, and then on Friday, residents marched around the local shrine and dispersed peacefully. A few days earlier, a similar protest march was met with tear-gas shelling and pellets.