PAKISTAN has escalated the growing crisis in Kashmir by banning Bollywood films from its cinemas and suspending a train service to India.

Islamabad's railways minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad declared the Friendship Express service suspended from today, making the announcement while passengers were waiting to board a train in Lahore.

The news comes as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi claimed the region had been stripped of its autonomy to liberate it from 'terrorism and separatism' in a televised address to the nation today. 'Friends, I have full belief that we will be able to free Jammu and Kashmir from terrorism and separatism under this system,' Modi said. Indian authorities imposed a communications blackout on Kashmir for a fourth straight day today, stopping India's media from being able to report what is happening in the disputed region after the government revoked its special status.

The unprecedented clampdown is prompting criticism from an increasing number of Indian media organisations and senior editors, though some also support Modi's government - saying the curbs were important for national security.

Editors at newspapers and television stations say that in many cases it has been days since they have heard from their correspondents based in the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir. They don't even know whether they are safe.

There is virtually no information coming out of most of the Muslim-majority Kashmir Valley.

Journalists who are communicating in some way say they are only able to report from a very small part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, mainly a few blocks in the summer capital Srinigar. If they try and go outside that area they face layer upon layer of security checkpoints at which they are often turned back.

An adviser to Pakistani PM Imran Khan had proclaimed earlier 'no Indian cinema will be screened in any Pakistani cinema. Drama, films and Indian content of this kind will be completely banned in Pakistan.'

Pakistan has already downgraded its diplomatic ties with India in an angry backlash after New Delhi imposed direct rule over Kashmir on Monday. However, Pakistan's government insisted it is 'not looking at the military option' despite the escalating feud. 'Pakistan is looking at political, diplomatic and legal options,' foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told a news conference in Islamabad.

India has detained hundreds of people and put Kashmir politicians under house arrest in a strict security clampdown this week.

University professors, business leaders and activists were among the 560 people taken to makeshift detention centres, some during midnight raids.

Politicians including former state ministers and lawmakers have been held at their homes, regional leaders said.

Kashmir also remained under a communications blackout today with mobile networks and internet services suspended.

India is enforcing the curfew to suppress unrest in the region after stripping Kashmir of its special constitutional status on Monday.

Muslim-majority Kashmir is claimed in full by both India and Pakistan, and rebels have been fighting Indian rule in the portion it administers for decades. Last night the old quarter of Srinagar, Kashmir's largest city, was locked down with policemen in riot gear deployed every few metres, and barbed-wire checkpoints every few hundred yards. Thousands of paramilitary police have been deployed in Srinagar, schools shut and roads and neighbourhoods barricaded. A petition that challenges the lockdown has been filed in India's top court. Experts warn that the valley is likely to erupt in anger at the government's shock unilateral move once the restrictions are lifted, which could come as soon as the Muslim festival of Eid on Monday.

'You can't hold a state under curfew forever,' said Iltija Javed, daughter of detained former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti.

'I'm sure people in the valley are not going to take this lying down.' In response to India's action, Pakistan on Wednesday said it would downgrade its diplomatic ties with New Delhi, expel the Indian ambassador and suspend trade. Pakistan said it would ask the United Nations to pressure India to reverse its decision, which saw Kashmir downgraded from a state to two separate territories.

Hitting back, India's foreign ministry said that 'the recent developments pertaining to [Kashmir] are entirely the internal affair of India.

'Seeking to interfere in that jurisdiction by invoking an alarmist vision of the region will never succeed,' officials said.

India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars since independence over control of Kashmir.

Young Pakistani doctors, paramedics and nurses chant anti-India slogans as they take part in a protest in their home country +7 Young Pakistani doctors, paramedics and nurses chant anti-India slogans as they take part in a protest in their home country There is a long-running insurgency against Indian rule in Jammu-Kashmir which has seen an estimated 70,000 people, mostly civilians, killed in attacks since 1989.

Only six months ago the two countries appeared on the brink of war over Kashmir in one of the region's biggest flashpoints.

Tensions escalated alarmingly after a massive suicide bombing killed 40 Indian troops in Kashmir on February 14, with the attack claimed by a Pakistan-based militant group.

Twelve days later Indian warplanes launched a strike inside undisputed Pakistani territory, claiming to have hit a militant camp.

A furious Islamabad denied the raids had caused any damage, but a day later launched its own incursion across the Line of Control.

That sparked a dogfight which ended in both countries claiming they had shot down each other's warplanes, and the capture of an Indian pilot, Abhinandan Varthaman. Tensions calmed after Pakistan's PM Imran Khan announced the pilot would be released in a 'peace gesture'.

In New Delhi the announcement of the experienced pilot's release was seen as a diplomatic victory, but India warned that its military remained on 'heightened' alert.