Jammu & Kashmir: Gunmen kill toddler sitting on father’s lap

21st Sep 2015
Jammu & Kashmir: Gunmen kill toddler sitting on father’s lap

By Ahmad Adil

SRINAGAR, Jammu & Kashmir, India (AA): The disputed Kashmir region is experiencing a lockdown after the shooting dead of a three-year-old boy on Friday.

Burhan Bhat and his father Bashir Ahmad were killed outside their house in Sagipora village, northern Kashmir on Friday evening; the deaths have sparked a general strike across the region. Businesses and transport have been shut down.

Three unidentified gunmen fired at Bashir Ahmad Bhat – a former militant who fought the Indian army – killing him and his son, who was in his lap at the time of shootout.

As pictures of Burhan went viral on social media, people in Kashmir were equating him with the drowned Syrian refugee toddler Aylan Kurdi, asking why the shooting did not result in similar international outrage.

Pro-independence leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani said in a statement to the media: “The death of a Syrian child … has shook the whole world and the killing of a Kashmiri child has left all Kashmir in mourning.

“Everybody is asking: ‘What was the crime of a three-year-old child?’ No religion allows it. It is a murder of all humanity,” he said.

While police blame other militants for the killing, pro-independence leaders have blamed Indian agencies.

“We have started investigating these killings and our initial findings are that Bhat and his three-year-old son have been killed by the militants,” said Javed Mujtaba Gilani, who heads the police in Kashmir.

Pro-independence leaders reject police claims, with Geelani saying: “The way these killings are happening under the nose of army and police, it looks like that it is the outcome of that statement of the Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar in which he had talked about using terrorists to counter terrorism.”

The Bhat family say they have no idea about the killers and asked why a three-year-old was killed. Bhat’s brother, Parvez Ahmad, told Anadolu Agency: “My brother was killed because he was a militant at some point of his life but what had Burhan done to anybody?”

“How can anybody kill a three-year-old boy? It is barbaric,” Mir Faizan, a Srinagar resident, told Anadolu Agency.

A large number of people in Kashmir have been killed by ‘unidentified gunmen’ – a case where neither the militants nor the Indian security agencies claim responsibility.

Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full.

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.

Since 1989, Kashmiri resistance groups in Indian-held Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence or unification with neighboring Pakistan.

More than 70,000 Kashmiris have been killed so far in the violence, most of them by Indian forces. India maintains over half a million soldiers in the region. A part of Kashmir is also held by China.

[Photo: Muslim women shout anti-India and pro-freedom slogans during an earlier funeral of a top-ranking Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) commander, Irshad Ahmad Ganai in Padgam Pora village of Pulwama, some 45 kilometers from Srinagar, on September 13, 2015. Photographer: Faisal Khan/AA]

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