SRINAGAR: Hundreds of people in Occupied Kashmir staged protests on Wednesday, accusing the government forces of killing a man during an attack which also left a trooper dead.

Fighters opened fire from a mosque attic in the northern town of Sopore, setting off a battle with security forces, paramilitary police spokesperson Junaid Khan said.

The family of Bashir Ahmed Khan said that he was dragged out of his car after the showdown and shot dead by paramilitary forces.

His three-year-old grandson, who was travelling with him, was later pictured sitting on his chest.

“Locals said that he (Bashir Khan) was brought out of his car and shot dead by the forces,” Farooq Ahmed, a nephew of the dead man, told AFP.

“They told us that someone in uniform [shot Bashir Khan] then put the child on his chest as he lay dead on the road and took photographs,” Ahmed said.

The photo of the child as he sat on the body of his grandfather was widely shared on social media.

Paramilitary forces’ spokesman Khan said the allegation was “baseless”.

Police also denied the claims, saying legal action would be taken for “false reports and rumours”.

“There was no retaliation from the security forces,” inspector general of police Vijay Kumar told reporters.

Hundreds assembled at the man’s funeral near the main city of Srinagar shouting “We want freedom” from Indian rule.

Government forces have intensified counterinsurgency operations against Kashmiri separatists since a coronavirus lockdown was imposed in March.

Since January, at least 229 people have been killed during over 100 military operations across India-held Kashmir, including 32 civilians and 54 government forces, according to the Coalition of Civil Society, a rights group.

Fighters have been carrying out activities against Indian rule in the Himalayan region for more than three decades to back demands for independence or a merger with Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, July 2nd, 2020