Indian Kashmir shuts down as police, rebel killed
Indian Kashmir largely shut down on Monday and hundreds of police were deployed in the troubled region’s main city after the weekend shooting of two civilians by the army, a police chief said.
The shutdown to protest against the shootings came as a police officer and a militant were killed in a separate incident south of the main city Srinagar, said Kashmir’s police chief Abdul Gani Mir.
The officer and the rebel died in the village of Mandoora, 35 kilometres from Srinagar, during a gun battle that also wounded three soldiers, the police chief said.
“We launched an operation based on intelligence of the presence of militants in the area,” Mir said.
“One of our boys was martyred in the operation,” Mir said, also confirming the death of the rebel.
In Srinagar shops and other businesses, along with schools, were closed and traffic was light after a separatist group called for a strike in the region to protest at the weekend killings.
On Sunday soldiers opened fire on angry demonstrators, killing one. They had been protesting after the military shot dead a teenager hours earlier during a hunt for militants in Markondal village north of Srinagar.
Hundreds of police and paramilitary troops were deployed in the inner parts of Srinagar on Monday to try to prevent protests. A curfew was imposed on parts of the region, which remained tense following the deaths.
Despite the curfew, hundreds of villagers in the northern town of Hajin took to the streets, shouting anti-India slogans, while some tried to torch an army-run school.
“Curfew is strictly implemented. The area is calm now,” police superintendent Bashir Khan said.
The army runs “goodwill” schools across the territory as part of an operation aimed at “winning the hearts and minds” of people who deeply resent their presence in populated areas.
Police have launched an investigation into the weekend shootings. The army has started its own probe, after describing both incidents as regrettable.
Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan by a UN-monitored Line of Control. Both countries claim the Himalayan territory in full.
About a dozen armed groups have been fighting Indian forces since 1989 for Kashmir’s independence or its merger with Pakistan.
Tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, have died in the fighting.