SRINAGAR - Over 500 people have been detained in Indian-occupied Kashmir since the state was stripped of its special status by India.

Politicians, activists, business leaders and professors were reportedly among those being held in makeshift detention centres. The region has been in lockdown since Sunday night, with mobile, landline and internet networks cut off.

Indian police said the detentions were made in an effort to quell protests, Reuters news agency reported. “There is a lot of anger among the people,” a police official said.

BBC reporters saw some protesters throwing stones at security forces, and spoke to residents who said they feared that the violence could increase. “People of Kashmir are very angry,” said Iqbal, a local travel agent. “They are like a volcano that will eventually erupt and India is unaware of the consequences,” he said.

Among those detained were Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah, two former chief ministers of Occupied Kashmir. Although both were able to circumvent internet restrictions and tweet soon after the announcement was made, they have not been heard from since.

Meanwhile, India on Thursday urged Pakistan to review its decision to downgrade diplomatic ties over the withdrawal of special status to Occupied Kashmir, saying it was an internal affair and aimed at developing the region.

“The Government of India regrets the steps announced by Pakistan yesterday and would urge that country to review them so that normal channels for diplomatic communications are preserved,” India’s foreign ministry said, striking a conciliatory tone.

MODI DEFENDS LIFTING SPECIAL STATUS

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has appeared on state media to defend his highly controversial decision to remove the special status accorded to Occupied Kashmir.

Modi said a “new era” was beginning for the Indian-occupied region, where “hindrances” to its development had been lifted.

This is Mr Modi’s first address to the nation since Monday’s announcement in parliament that Article 370 - the part of the constitution guaranteeing Jammu and Kashmir special status - had been revoked.

Modi made his address via a broadcast on TV and radio - the latter the only platform that could reach Kashmiris while the region was still under lockdown.

In his speech, Modi suggested that Jammu and Kashmir could eventually regain the status of a state, but Ladakh would remain a union territory. “The scrapping of Article 370 is the beginning of a new era,” he said.

Kashmir’s special status, the prime minister argued, had been used as a weapon by Pakistan to “instigate some people”, but now India would rid the region of “terrorism and terrorists”.

“There will be a lot of development,” he said. “All the citizens will be given their rights.”

He promised greater voting rights and transparency, as well as better rail and road links, and said the young people of Kashmir should “take charge of the development of their own land”.

A cinema industry could flourish in the picturesque region, he suggested. “I think the whole world will come and shoot their films there,” he said. “[This will] bring employment for the people there.”

And he painted a picture of exports from the area taking off: “The colour of saffron or the taste of coffee from Jammu and Kashmir, be it the sweetness of the apple or the succulence of the apricot, be it Kashmiri shawls... they need to be spread worldwide.”