Professor among 10 killed by Indian troops in held Kashmir

Updated May 07, 2018

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THOUSANDS attend the funeral of two Kashmiri fighters who were shot dead by Indian forces in Shopian district of India-held Kashmir on Sunday.—AFP
THOUSANDS attend the funeral of two Kashmiri fighters who were shot dead by Indian forces in Shopian district of India-held Kashmir on Sunday.—AFP

SRINAGAR: Ten Kashmiris, among them a professor, were shot dead by Indian forces during a clash and protests in one of the most violent days in India-held Kashmir on Sunday.

Thousands took to the streets in southern part of held Kashmir to show support for the five men killed during the gunfight.Government forces opened fire to break up the protests, director general of police Shesh Paul Vaid said.

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Five of the protesters were killed and hundreds others injured. A police official said at least 10 of the protesters were hit by bullets and four were in a critical condition.

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Government forces swooped on the village of Badigam, in Shopian district south of Srinagar, following a tip-off about armed men holed up in a house.

Mr Vaid claimed that armed separatists refused an offer to surrender, triggering the fierce gun battle.

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A special appeal was made to Mohammad Rafi Bhat, a university sociology teacher who had gone underground with the armed men on Friday.

The Kashmir University, where he taught, was ordered closed for two days, according to a university statement.

“We brought his (Professor Bhat’s) father from his home to persuade him to surrender, but he, like all of them, refused,” Mr Vaid claimed, adding five armed men died in the firefight.

A top fighter of the Hizbul Mujahideen, a key separatist group, was also among the dead.

As news of the trapped men spread, residents took to the streets across southern Kashmir shouting slogans demanding an end to Indian rule, witnesses and an officer said.

A police official said at least 30 people were injured in clashes with government forces who fired live ammunition, pellet guns and tear gas.

A doctor at a hospital in Shopian said hundreds of injured needed treatment.

“We have reached our full capacity. We have run out of essential medicines, there are no more ambulances,” he said.

A curfew was ordered in Srinagar and mobile internet services were shut down in much of the disputed region.

The joint resistance leadership of separatists asked people to march to the chief minister’s office in Srinagar on Monday to protest against the bloodshed.

“Words fail to express the pain of the tragedy unfolding in Shopian as the count of the brutally killed by Indian forces keeps rising,” said All Parties Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.

On Saturday, four Kashmiris had died during a firefight in Srinagar — the latest in a string of gun battles in recent weeks across the territory disputed by India and Pakistan since they split in 1947.

Fighting in held Kashmir this year has left 120 dead, according to officials.

India has deployed more than 500,000 soldiers in the restive region to tackle rising militancy as civilian support for the separatists grows.

Published in Dawn, May 7th, 2018