Shops and businesses were shut in several parts of Indian-controlled Kashmir on Saturday in a general strike called to protest against new laws that allow Indians to buy land in the disputed region.

Iran PressAsia: Pro-India politicians in Kashmir have also criticized the laws, which came into effect on Tuesday and allow any of its nationals to buy land in the region and accused India of putting Kashmir’s land up for sale.

Until last year, Indians were not allowed to buy property in the region.

The shutdown call was made by the Awami Action Committee headed by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who condemned the new laws as part of New Delhi’s policy of permanent demographic change.

Government forces in riot gear patrolled streets in Kashmir’s main city of Srinagar in anticipation of anti-India protests. Public transport also stayed off the roads.

But in August 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government scrapped Kashmir’s special status, annulled its separate constitution, split the region into two federal territories – Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh – and subsequently removed inherited protections on land and jobs.

The action triggered widespread anger and economic ruin amid a harsh security clampdown and communications blackout.

Kashmir residents expressed their resentment against the new laws and termed it India’s settler-colonial project.