SRINAGAR: India's Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Tuesday told a rally that “going to Pakistan is the same as going to hell”, as Indian security forces killed five protesters and injured 10 others on Tuesday.
Parrikar went on to say that Indian troops had “sent back five terrorists yesterday”, referring to the gunmen who were reportedly killed while attempting a cross-border incursion on Monday.
It is pertinent to mention that Pakistan Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry on Monday invited his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar for dialogue on the Kashmir dispute.
The move came as relations between Pakistan and India remain strained a day after ceasefire violations along the Line of Control on August 14.
Clashes erupted on Tuesday after crowds angered by the killing of a militant in Kashmir pelted them with stones and defied a curfew, an officials claimed.
Occupied Kashmir has witnessed violent protests since July 8, when security forces killed a field commander of militant group Hizbul Mujahideen who enjoyed widespread support in the Muslim-majority region.
Kashmir also saw an upsurge in violence around India's Independence Day holiday on Monday — which was observed as Black Day by Kashmiris — when Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India would not bow to terrorism and accused neighbour and arch-rival Pakistan of glorifying it.
The latest casualties came as security forces opened fire with automatic rifles, a step up from their earlier use of shotguns, whose pellets are meant to incapacitate but not kill.
Locals say the shotguns have inflicted severe injuries, and even blinded, hundreds of people, among them innocent bystanders.
Indian troops killed a total of seven militants on Monday in two incidents, five of them gunmen who had allegedly attempted a cross-border incursion and two more, who had attacked a Srinagar police station.
One officer died in the police station shootout.
At least 64 people have been killed and thousands injured during 39 days of protests, while schools, shops, banks and offices remain closed in much of Kashmir as paramilitary troops patrol arterial roads, residential areas and mosques.
Kashmir is at the center of a decades-old rivalry between India and Pakistan, which also rules its northern part, and backed an insurgency in the late 1980s and 1990s that Indian security forces largely crushed. Both countries claim Kashmir in full.
New Delhi has rejected Pakistan's invitation to hold talks on the future of Jammu and Kashmir, India's northernmost state, and Modi said he had received messages of support from leaders in restive parts of Pakistan.
In a speech on Monday, Modi accused Pakistan of committing atrocities in its own province of Baluchistan, escalating a war of words that Islamabad said was intended to divert attention from the troubles in Indian-administered Kashmir.