Clashes continue to rock occupied Kashmir

Updated 09 May 2020

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Residents accuse Indian troops of swooping in on Riyaz Naikoo's village, vandalizing tent set up to mourn his death. — AFP/File
Residents accuse Indian troops of swooping in on Riyaz Naikoo's village, vandalizing tent set up to mourn his death. — AFP/File

SRINAGAR: Anti-India protests and clashes continued for a third day in occupied Kashmir on Friday, following the killing of a top resistance leader by Indian forces.

Kashmiri leader Riyaz Naikoo and his aide were killed in a gunfight with Indian troops on Wednesday in the southern Awantipora area, leading to massive clashes at several places.

The clashes continued on Friday as anti-India protesters threw stones at government forces, who fired shotgun pellets and tear gas to quell the spiralling protests.

At least one man was killed and 50 others were injured in the three days of clashes, residents and medics said. Most of the injured were treated locally.

However, at least a dozen people with bullet and pellet injuries were taken to a hospital in Srinagar for treatment, a doctor said on condition of anonymity. She said most of the injured had been hit by pellets in one or both eyes.

Residents said Indian troops swooped into the Kashmiri leader’s native village on Thursday, and accused them of vandalising a tent which villagers had set up for mourning his death, triggering large protests and clashes in the area.

Authorities did not hand over the bodies of the two slain fighters to their families under a new Indian policy designed to thwart large-scale funerals. Instead, police buried the bodies in a mountainous graveyard about 100 kilometres from the village.

Authorities have shut down mobile phone and internet services since Wednesday, a common Indian tactic in the disputed region when such protests erupt. They also imposed a near total information blackout and refused to brief media about the situation.

India imposed similar measures in 2019 when it revoked the disputed region’s semi-autonomous status and statehood and imposed direct federal rule.

Indian security officials and some members of the ruling party called Naikoo’s killing a victory against the Kashmiri fighters. Naikoo, 35, was the chief of operations of the region’s largest indigenous armed group, Hizbul Mujahideen, which has spearheaded a rebellion against Indian rule.

Published in Dawn, May 9th, 2020