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Jammu & Kashmir shuts down, protests erupt

9th Jul 2017
Jammu & Kashmir shuts down, protests erupt

By Zahid Rafiq

 

SRINAGAR, Jammu and Kashmir, India (AA): The disputed Jammu and Kashmir state on Saturday observed a complete shutdown to mark the first anniversary of the death of local militant commander, Burhan Wani.

Fearing pro-independence protests and demonstrations, the Indian authorities had increased the presence of its armed forces and imposed curfew-like restrictions across the region.

Internet access has remained completely blocked since Friday night. Known often as the most militarized region in the world, Jammu and Kashmir saw an increase in the number of soldiers, barricades and checkpoints on the streets on Saturday.

Clashes between the protesters and the Indian forces broke out in South Kashmir’s town of Shopain on Saturday after forces fired pellets to break up a demonstration in the area.

Earlier in the morning, three Indian army personnel were wounded after militants attacked an army patrol party in North Kashmir’s Hajin area, local media reported.

Wani, a 22-year-old Kashmiri militant commander with the Hizbul Mujahideen, was killed last year on July 8 in a gunfight with Indian forces.

His death sparked off yet another popular revolt in the region with tens of thousands of people taking to the streets.

The revolt lasted around four months and saw India sending additional soldiers to contain the unrest. Around 100 civilian protesters were killed and, according to hospital records, around 15,000 were wounded; several were permanently blinded by pellet guns used by Indian soldiers on Kashmiri civilians during demonstrations against Wani’s death.

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 Paramilitary soldiers in Pampore near Sringar, Jammu and Kashmir, India on 21 February 2016. Photographer: Faisal Khan/AA]

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