The police on Tuesday arrested women activists, including the sister and daughter of former chief minister Farooq Abdullah, during a march in Srinagar to protest the withdrawal of special status to Jammu and Kashmir, officials said.

The action came a day after authorities reinstated voice calling services for 4 million of the roughly 7 million mobile phone users in the state after a 72-day blackout meant to curb agitations and attacks in reaction to the Union government’s August 5 decision to virtually strike down Article 370 of the Indian Constitution.

“We the women of Kashmir disapprove the unilateral decision taken by the government of India to revoke Article 370, 35A and downgrade and split the state of Jammu and Kashmir,” said a statement circulated by the group of roughly 12 women before policewomen rounded them up.

The protesters demanded restoration of “civil liberties and fundamental rights” of the citizens, and slammed a section of the media for “their false/misleading coverage of ground realities in Kashmir”.

The detainees included Abdullah’s sister Suraiya and his daughter Safiya, who were leading the group wearing black arm bands and holding placards.

Senior superintendent of police of Srinagar, Haseeb Mughal, refused to comment on the detentions. According to a police official who asked not to be named, the women were shifted to Central jail. Another official, who too spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the women had violated orders under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code that is imposed in the Srinagar district and prohibits gathering of groups of people. “There is possibility the women won’t be released very soon,” this person added. The National Conference (NC) condemned the arrests, saying such measures would further alienate the people and delay restoration of normalcy in the valley. It also sought the immediate revocation of detention of political leaders and common citizens, including Abdullah and his relatives.

Union home minister Rajnath Singh reiterated on Tuesday that the constitutional changes were crucial in the “decisive battle against years of proxy war and terror acts perpetrated by our neighbour (Pakistan) and this step will ensure ever-lasting peace in Kashmir and the region”.

On Monday evening, two terrorists, including a suspected Pakistani national, shot dead the driver of a Rajasthan truck and assaulted an orchard owner in Shopian district, police said, calling it an attempt to intimidate people against resuming normal life.

Earlier in the day, authorities had reinstated the ban on text messaging for the post-paid subscribers whose voice calling services had been restored. Mobile internet services and prepaid connections continue to be blocked. Last week, authorities announced that tourists would be allowed back into the region after they were asked to leave in August. Educational institutions are also open, but attendance has been low. In Jammu, communication was restored within days of the blockade and mobile internet was restarted around mid-August before being blocked again following “rumours”.

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