NEW DELHI — Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday used an Independence Day speech to defend his decision to strip Kashmir of its special status as about 7 million residents of the disputed region endured an unprecedented security lockdown and communications blackout for an 11th day.

Pakistan’s security forces, meanwhile, said “unprovoked firing” by India along the militarized Line of Control in the region killed three Pakistani soldiers and two civilians in separate incidents. Pakistan said it returned fire, killing five Indian soldiers. The Indian Army said there were no Indian casualties.

They were the first reported clashes between the nuclear-armed rivals since New Delhi changed the status of Kashmir, escalating regional tensions. The two countries have fought two wars over the territory.

Modi said Kashmir’s previous status — some political autonomy and a ban on outsiders buying land and taking public sector jobs — had fueled a movement for separatism in the Muslim-majority Himalayan region that is claimed by both India and Pakistan.

He also said it was unjust for Kashmiri women because the law said they lost their inheritance rights if marrying a person from outside the region.

“The old arrangement in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh encouraged corruption, nepotism but there was injustice when it came to rights of women, children, Dalits, tribal communities,” Modi said.

Modi’s Hindu-led nationalist government imposed a lockdown in Indian-administered Kashmir on Aug. 4. That came just before a presidential order was announced to subsume the region into India’s federal government by revoking Article 370 of the constitution and downgrading the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two federal territories.

A new law allows anyone to buy land there, which some Kashmiris fear could change the region’s culture and demographics.

Sheikh Saaliq and Emily Schmall are Associated Press writers.