Pakistan condemns Indian ‘state terrorism’ as 9 fighters killed in occupied Kashmir

Pakistan on Monday strongly condemned the killing of nine Kashmiri fighters by Indian forces in occupied Kashmir, terming them an act of “state terrorism”.

The Foreign Office statement came as four Kashmiris were killed by government forces in occupied Kashmir’s southern Shopian area on Monday, just hours after five fighters died in a firefight in the same area.

“Pakistan strongly condemns the unabated extrajudicial killings of Kashmiri youth in acts of state terrorism perpetrated by Indian occupation forces in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir,” FO Spokesperson Aisha Farooqui said in a statement.

She noted that nine Kashmiri fighters were killed at the hands of Indian troops during the last 24 hours in “fake encounters” and so-called “cordon-and-search” operations in Shopian.

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She said several houses in the area were also destroyed and pellet guns and tear gas used against Kashmiri civilians who took to the streets to protest Indian brutalities. “Infliction of such collective punishment to [a] community is tantamount to crimes against humanity.”

She added that it was “highly reprehensible” that India remains “busy in intensifying its brutalisation” of the Kashmiri people while the world community grapples with the coronavirus pandemic.

The FO spokesperson said extrajudicial killings of Kashmiris in fake encounters by the Indian forces are being perpetrated with “complete impunity” under the cover of draconian laws, adding that the Indian forces neither reveal the identities of the deceased nor hand over their bodies to the families for burial.

“The ‘Hindutva’ agenda of the RSS-BJP combine is targeting defenceless Kashmiris with mindless violence to break their will,” she said, adding that India’s efforts to “subjugate” the Kashmiri people through killings, torture, forced disappearances, incarcerations and brutalisation will not succeed.

Farooqi stressed that it is the responsibility of the world community to urgently act and protect the Kashmiris from the “wanton killings and other brutalities” being inflicted on them by the Indian forces.

“Pakistan will continue to call for holding India accountable for its crimes against the Kashmiri people.”

Armed ‘encounters’ are frequent in the occupied Himalayan region, but the fighting has intensified with at least 85 fighters and dozens of government forces killed this year.

In the latest incident, soldiers cordoned a village in Shopian early Monday after a tip-off from police, army spokesman Colonel Rajesh Kalia said, according to AFP.

A firefight broke out and four suspected Kashmiri fighters were killed, he added.

Soldiers also blew up at least one home, another police officer and locals said.

An army officer, who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity, said three soldiers were wounded in the confrontation.

Hundreds of villagers rallied in support of the fighters, throwing stones and shouting slogans against Indian rule as the firefight raged, a police officer and locals said.

On Sunday, five fighters were killed after Indian soldiers and counterinsurgency police cordoned off Shopian’s Reban village.

Tensions remain high in occupied Kashmir after New Delhi in August revoked its semi-autonomous status and imposed a lengthy curfew.

Pakistan sharply criticised the move and there has been a frequent exchange of fire across the heavily militarised Line of Control.

Since 1989, armed Kashmir groups have fought against some 500,000 Indian soldiers deployed in the territory, demanding independence or Kashmir’s merger with Pakistan.

India regularly blames Pakistan for arming and training fighters before sending them across the border, charges that Islamabad denies.