By Zahid Rafiq
SRINAGAR, Jammu and Kashmir, India (AA): Indian armed forces injured dozens of Kashmiris Monday when they clashed with thousands of pro-independence students who walked out of their schools, colleges and university campuses in Jammu and Kashmir.
The students, who termed the Indian rule in the region as “military occupation”, were reacting against the mounting repression by Indian armed forces.
Days after a video of a Kashmiri man strapped to an Indian Army jeep went viral, supporting charges Indian forces use Kashmiris as human shields, India’s attorney general defended the human right violation, calling its usage a “great job.”
“It was one of those spur-of-the-moment decisions… If an army major got away without hurting anybody, it’s a great job… There was nothing wrong, considering the circumstances,” Mukul Rohtagi told Indian news channel CNN IBN.
Pellet guns, teargas, stun grenades and oleoresin grenades were used against the students in Srinagar and other parts of the disputed region. According to a health official, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media, at least 68 students were injured.
Internet services were closed in the afternoon in the region, which according to some observers, was to primarily prevent the spread of videos allegedly showing extreme violence by Indian armed forces against the Kashmiri civilians.
“By shutting down the internet, the Indian state cannot suppress the truth that it’s rule here is via military occupation sustained by the systematic use of violence against the Kashmiri people,” Khurram Parvez, a human rights activist from the Srinagar-based Coalition of Civil Society, told Anadolu Agency.
Last week, dozens of videos, taken by protesters and Indian forces themselves, showing torture and killings of Kashmiris had gone viral.
A holiday was declared on Tuesday at all educational institutions in the disputed region.
Altaf Bukhari, minister of education in Jammu and Kashmir, told Anadolu Agency: “The divisional administration has decided to close the educational institutions as a precautionary measure after the clashes today.
“It was bad situation today and if we don’t shut down colleges, there is chance they may shut down for long.”
Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.
The two countries have fought three wars – in 1948, 1965 and 1971 – since they were partitioned in 1947, two of which were fought over Kashmir.
Kashmiri resistance groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or for unification with neighboring Pakistan. More than 70,000 people have reportedly been killed in the conflict since 1989. India maintains more than half a million troops in the disputed region.
[Archive photo: Indian forces fire at Kashmiris in Nowhatta area of Srinagar on 15 August 2016. Photographer: Faisla Khan/AA]