The Indian government arrested at least 75 Kashmiri political leaders and activists to prevent political unrest after a regional union of political parties won local elections in Kashmir, leaders and a police officer said on Saturday.
The District Development Council elections, which ended earlier this week, are the first local elections with a Muslim majority since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government revoked the region’s special status last year.
The People’s Alliance’s Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), which is pro-India but supports self-rule in Kashmir, won 112 out of 280 seats in local elections, which ran from November 28 to December 19 in an eight-phase staged process.
Prime Minister Modi’s Hindu Nationalist Party (BJP) Bharatiya Janata won 74 seats, only three of them in the Kashmir Valley.
Indian authorities have detained Kashmir since its autonomy was revoked in August 2019 and arrested most of the separatist leaders who have called for boycotting elections in the past.
New Delhi repealed Kashmir’s constitution, divided it into two federal territories – Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir – and deprived her of traditional protections for land and jobs.
Kashmiri politicians say the election results clearly show that Kashmiris rejected last year’s decision.
New Delhi then cracked down on the opposition and rounded up hundreds of people to prevent protests and violence.