Global affairs Canada says at least 12 Canadians are in IOK

Ottawa (Canada), August 14 (KMS): Global Affairs Canada has said that at least 12 Canadians are in occupied Kashmir that has been the target of a strict clampdown for more than a week.

The occupied territory has been under an increased military presence, a curfew and near-total communications blackout since the night of August 04, leaving residents in the dark about what has been happening in their neighbourhood, let alone their region.

Global Affairs Canada manages Canada’s diplomatic relations, provides consular services to Canadians, promotes the country’s international trade, and leads Canada’s international development and humanitarian assistance.

Global Affairs Canada spokesperson Barbara Harvey said in a statement advised the Canadians to avoid all travel to occupied Kashmir. “If Canadians are in Jammu and Kashmir, they should monitor local news, follow the instructions of local authorities,” she said.

Now in its second week, the communications blackout in Jammu and Kashmir means residents have been without regular access to internet, mobile or landline connections. The Globe and Mail previously reported that members of the Kashmiri community in Canada have been largely without contact with their loved ones since communications were suspended.

Although communication has been shut down in the region in the past, this time the blackout was followed by changes to the Indian Constitution that, among other things, prevents Kashmir from making its own laws.

Barbara Harvey said that 12 Canadians in Jammu and Kashmir had signed up for Registration of Canadians Abroad, a federal service that sends notifications to travelling Canadians in case of any emergencies. “As registration is voluntary, this is not necessarily a complete picture of Canadians in the region,” she wrote.

Earlier on Tuesday, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland issued a statement saying Canada was monitoring the situation. “Canada is concerned about the risk of escalation, infringements on civil rights and reports of detentions,” the statement said. “We call on all parties to maintain peace and stability along the Line of Control and in the region.”

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