SRINAGAR: A Kashmir freedom fighter gunned down two policemen on a busy street in the disputed territory’s main city Srinagar on Friday, the latest in a string of deadly attacks around a visit by 24 foreign ambassadors.
In total, the surge in violence left three police officers and three freedom fighters dead, with the latest killings coming just hours after the envoys on the guided trip left the territory.
Access to held Kashmir has been restricted for foreigners since the government ended its semi-autonomy in 2019, and much of the Muslim-majority territory observed a shutdown during the diplomats’ stay.
Friday’s incident was the fourth involving anti-India fighters since the envoys arrived on Wednesday.
The two policemen were stood at a store entrance in Srinagar when a fighter pulled out an automatic rifle from under a tunic and opened fire at point-blank range, CCTV footage released by police showed. The gunman ran off as passers-by cowered.
On Wednesday, freedom fighters on a motorbike shot and wounded the son of a well-known Srinagar restaurant owner who is not from Kashmir. Police said three people had been detained.
Three fighters were killed on Thursday during a clash with Indian forces in the Shopian area of the Kashmir valley.
And earlier on Friday, during another military search operation in the Beerwah area, fighters killed a police officer and injured another before escaping, police said.
New Delhi moved to bring the occupied territory under greater control in August 2019 — a major security blanket was imposed and scores of local politicians detained.
Some remain in custody, though most restrictions have gradually been removed.
Ahead of the ambassadors’ visit — where the diplomats from a host of African, Asian, European and Latin American countries met local leaders — authorities lifted a curb on high-speed 4G internet.
India on Thursday rejected concerns raised by two UN rights experts that “demographic change on a linguistic, religious and ethnic basis” was underway in the territory.
“The loss of autonomy and the imposition of direct rule by the government in New Delhi suggests the people of Jammu and Kashmir no longer have their own government and have lost power to legislate or amend laws,” the experts said in a statement.
“These fears are baseless and unfounded,” India’s foreign ministry said in response.
Published in Dawn, February 20th, 2021