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UN Chief Urges India, Pakistan to Exercise "Maximum Restraint" over Kashmir

Anushree Fadnavis/Reuters

The United Nations chief has expressed concern over "restrictions" in Indian-administered Kashmir as the Muslim-majority territory remained under an unprecedented security lockdown and a near-total communications blackout for a fourth day.

The statement by Antonio Guterres on Thursday came as Narendra Modi, the prime minister of India, defended the controversial stripping of special rights from the disputed region as necessary to stop "terrorism and separatism", Al-Jazeera reports.

Hundreds have been arrested since Monday, according to local media, in the wake of the decision by Modi's Hindu-nationalist government to downgrade the portion of Kashmir it administers from statehood to a territory, limit its decision-making power and eliminate its right to its own constitution.

Guterres said he was "concerned over reports of restrictions on the Indian-side of Kashmir", adding the curbs "could exacerbate the human rights situation in the region".

The UN secretary-general also appealed for "maximum restraint" and urged India and Pakistan "to refrain from taking steps that could affect" the region's status.

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