Another protester killed in India-held KashmirArchive
SRINAGAR: Indian government forces fired shotguns and tear gas in India-held Kashmir on Wednesday to break up new protests demanding an end to Indian rule in the disputed region, leaving a young man dead and at least 50 other people injured.
As Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh arrived in the Himalayan region to discuss the unrest with local political, business and other leaders, thousands of residents rallied in Pulwama in southern Kashmir.
A police officer said the clashes erupted after troops tried to stop thousands of people who defied a curfew in the town. He said the protesters hurled rocks at the troops, who fired shotguns and tear gas.
However, the residents said government troops swooped in on a neighbourhood in Pulwama early on Wednesday and vandalised a large tent shelter put up for a pro-freedom meeting and also beat up local volunteers.
A resident, Yousuf Bhat, said the troops indiscriminately fired shotguns. He said youths retaliated later with rocks, triggering large clashes in the town.
Among the injured civilians, eight were hospitalised in Srinagar, where a young man named Amir Mir died due to shotgun pellet injuries all over his body, police and doctors said.
Several protests against Indian rule were also reported in other areas of the region.
Some of the largest protests in the disputed region against Indian rule in recent years were sparked by the killing of a popular militant leader on July 8.
Kashmiri leaders opposed to Indian rule in the region, most of them either under house arrest or in police detention, have vowed to continue their struggle and refused to participate in any dialogue before New Delhi accepts Kashmir as a disputed region, releases political prisoners, revokes harsh emergency laws and announces a plan for demilitarisation.
A strict curfew, a series of communication blackouts and an intensified crackdown since July 8 have failed to stop the deadly protests against Indian rule. Residents have struggled to cope with shortages of food, medicine and other necessities.
As he arrived in Srinagar on a two-day visit, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said he would hold talks with various stakeholders in Kashmir who believed in “Kashmiriyat, Insaniyat and Jamhooriyat”.
The minister’s visit to the disputed region comes after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s interaction with a delegation of opposition parties led by former state chief minister Omar Abdullah in New Delhi on Monday.
Modi had expressed “deep concern and pain” over the situation there and had asked all political parties to work together to find a “permanent and lasting” solution to problems in Jammu and Kashmir.
This is Singh’s second visit in a month to the valley.
Published in Dawn, August 25th, 2016