Protests in Kashmir after civilian killed by Indian army

April 15, 2015

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Women villagers shout slogans during the funeral procession of Muhammad Khalid Wani, a Kashmiri youth, in Tral, south of Srinagar, April 14, 2015. Indian army said soldiers had killed a militant in the area on Monday, but villagers said Wani was a civilian.— Reuters
Women villagers shout slogans during the funeral procession of Muhammad Khalid Wani, a Kashmiri youth, in Tral, south of Srinagar, April 14, 2015. Indian army said soldiers had killed a militant in the area on Monday, but villagers said Wani was a civilian.— Reuters

SRINAGAR: Violent protests erupted in India-held Kashmir on Tuesday after a civilian and a militant were killed in an encounter with the army, officials in the disputed Himalayan region said.

Two men were killed in military operations late on Monday, said Nitish Kumar, a police official. He gave no other details of the encounter, which took place near the southern town of Tral.

Relatives and angry locals disputed that version, saying the civilian was tortured to death. One of the men who was killed was a known militant and the other a civilian who was the brother of a militant, Kumar said.

The body of the civilian, Khaled Muzaffar, had no bullet wounds, said his father, Muzaffar Wani, a local school principal.

He said there were rope marks on his son’s wrists, indicating he had been tortured by security troops.

Police official K. Rajendra said authorities “will get to know the truth” once an autopsy report is released.

The Indian army said only one person — a militant — was killed in the incident. Several phone calls to army officials went unanswered.

Soon after Khaled Muzaffar’s burial on Tuesday, hundreds of rock-throwing protesters took to the streets and clashed with police and paramilitary troops, who retaliated by firing live ammunition in the air as well as tear gas at several places in and around Tral. At least 15 people were injured, police said.

Residents in India-held Kashmir strongly favour a merger with Pakistan or independence. Several militant groups have operated in the region since an insurgency erupted in 1989.

An estimated 68,000 people have died in the fighting and ensuing crackdown by Indian forces. Resentment over Indian rule in the disputed region is now mostly expressed through street protests.

Published in Dawn, April 15th, 2015

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