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Anti-India protests erupted in held Kashmir after suspected militants, civilian killed

August 02, 2017


Kashmiri villagers carry the body of suspected militant Arif Lelhari during his funeral in the Lelhar village of Pulwama on August 1, 2017.—AFP
Kashmiri villagers carry the body of suspected militant Arif Lelhari during his funeral in the Lelhar village of Pulwama on August 1, 2017.—AFP

Large anti-India protests and clashes, spearheaded mostly by students, erupted in India-held Kashmir (IHK) on Tuesday after Indian forces killed two suspected militants in a gunbattle and fatally shot a protester during an ensuing demonstration demanding an end to the Indian rule in held Kashmir.

The protests following the killings spread across the region and were led mostly by students, after which authorities ordered the closure of educational institutions.

Inspector General of Police Muneer Ahmed Khan claimed that the two militants were killed after police and soldiers, on a tip, cordoned off southern Hakripora village early Tuesday. He said the trapped militants fired at the troops, triggering a gunbattle which lasted at least two hours.

Villagers said troops blasted two civilian homes with explosives during the operation.

As the gun battle raged, residents defied the security lockdown and clashed with government forces near the site of the fighting in an attempt to help the trapped militants escape. A young man was killed and scores of others were injured in the clashes in the village.

Large protests and clashes against Indian rule spread to several other places across held Kashmir, including the main city of Srinagar, as students boycotted classes and hit the streets.

Chanting anti-India slogans and demanding the end of the Indian rule, the students hurled rocks at Indian forces after being stopped outside schools and colleges.

Troops fired shotgun pellets and tear gas, leading to pitched battles, including in Srinagar's main commercial hub, where streets were strewn with rocks and broken bricks and the stench of tear gas filled the air. Dozens more were injured in subsequent clashes.

Authorities closed all educational institutions on Tuesday and the institutions will remain closed on Wednesday as a “precautionary measure,” said Baseer Khan, a top civilian administrator.

Indian officials also blocked internet service in the region to stop activists from using social media to rally support against the Indian rule in IHK.

Separatist leaders, who challenge India's rule over IHK, called for a shutdown Wednesday to protest the killings.

Indian police identified one of the suspected militants who was killed as Abu Dujana, a top Lashkar-i-Taiba commander.

In recent years, Kashmiris, mainly youths, have displayed open solidarity with anti-India militants and sought to protect them by engaging troops in street clashes during military operations against militants.

The anti-India protests and clashes have persisted despite the Indian army chief warning recently that “tough action” would be taken against stone throwers during counterinsurgency operations.