Kashmir tension persists after Shopian killings

Apr 12, 2021 | Brutality by Occupying Forces

Shops and schools shut for second day in Indian-administered region amid anger over killings in separatist stronghold.

Srinagar, Indian-administered Kashmir – A shutdown has continued for the second day across Indian-administered Kashmir, following deadly clashes in villages in the separatist stronghold that resulted in 19 deaths.

All shops, schools, and colleges remained closed and the roads were deserted on Monday as Kashmir’s separatist leaders called for a complete shutdown in protest against the killings.

Muslim-majority Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since independence from Britain in 1947.

In many volatile parts, including the old parts of Kashmir’s main city, Srinagar, hundreds of security personnel guarded the streets in light of the restrictions put by the government.

Kashmiri separatist leaders extended the shutdown call to April 3. Kashmiri government officials extended the closure of schools in the region in light of the fresh tension.

On Sunday, 19 people, including 12 separatist fighters, four civilians and three Indian army soldiers, were killed in three villages of south Kashmir’s Shopian district and one fighter was killed in a brief gun battle in Dialgam, a village in Anantnag district.

The killings of the fighters led to massive demonstrations in many parts of the region, in which more than three dozen people were wounded.

SA Dinkar, the local police superintendent, told Al Jazeera on Monday the situation was under control.

“All the militants have been buried and their funerals are over. We didn’t get reports of any clashes except for few minor injuries of some people,” he said.

Surge in violence

Villages in Shopian have witnessed violence regularly since the beginning of this year in the form of firefights between armed separatist groups and Indian troops.

Most of the fighters killed in Sunday’s clashes were locals and belonged to south Kashmir.

“The forces are targeting everyone whether a protester or not,” said Kulsuma Begum, who was attending to her teenage son at a hospital in Kashmir’s main city, Srinagar.

“My son was hit with pellets on the left eye and the doctors are not sure if he can get back his full vision.

“It pains me to see all these young boys here like this in the ward struggling to see.”

Dr Saleem Tak, medical superintendent at the Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital (SMHS), said Sunday was a hectic day for the staff.

“Yesterday, we received 45 patients,” he told Al Jazeera.

He said “41 of them had suffered pellet injuries in their eyes; three had bullet injuries, and one of them was hit in his abdomen with a bullet. All the other patients are stable”.

Burhan Wani’s killing

The villages of southern Kashmir have turned into separatist strongholds following the killing of a young commander, Burhan Wani, by Indian security forces in 2016.

Since then, people have been openly supporting the cause of the armed groups battling Indian security forces in Kashmir.

Both Pakistan and India claim the Himalayan territory in full and have fought three wars over the mountainous region, which remains one of the most militarised regions on earth.

Kashmiris demand that a referendum take place to let them decide their future.

Tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, have died since 1990.

Author: Rifat Fareed
Publication: Al Jazeera