Jammu & Kashmir: Indian forces launch crackdown on Kashmiri villages

5th May 2017
Jammu & Kashmir: Indian forces launch crackdown on Kashmiri villages

By Zahid Rafiq

 

SRINAGAR, Jammu and Kashmir (AA): A Kashmiri civilian was killed and five others wounded in Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday.

The deaths took place as Indian forces conducted the largest search operation in the disputed territory in more than a decade.

While thousands of descended upon villages in the Shopian district of southern Kashmir early on Thursday morning, Indian helicopters and drones were used for the first time.

Indian police said they had gone in to attack pro-independence militants they believed were present in the area in large numbers, but the operation was called off around 10 hours later without success.

However, late in the evening, Indian police said an army unit was ambushed by militants in the Kellar area of Shopian.

A civilian driver, in whose vehicle the army patrol was moving, was killed in the gun battle.

– House-to-house searches

“We had information about the presence of militants in the villages and it was an operation to neutralize them but it wasn’t really a success,” a senior police official, who was not authorized to speak to the media, told Anadolu Agency. “There will be many such operations now.”

The crackdown on around 20 villages in Shopian was conducted jointly by the Indian army, paramilitary forces and the police.

According to locals, announcements were made early in the morning for people to assemble in a ground after which Indian forces conducted identification parades and house-to-house searches.

Mohammad Ramzan Hajam, a resident of Shopian, told Anadolu Agency: “It was like it used to be during the 1990s. But this time they had helicopters and drones also.

“We think they want to make us afraid, give us the hint of what they can do to us if we keep asking for independence and supporting the militants who are our children, brothers and neighbors.”

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: Protestersand Indian police clash in Srinagar the summer capital of Indian controlled Kashmir on April 24, 2017. Many students’ sustained injuries after Indian police used teargas shells, chili smoke, water cannons and stun grenades to disperse them. They were protesting against the Indian police raid in degree college Pulwama last week in which more than forty students got injured in police action. Photographer: Muhabiri Faisal Khan/AA]

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