SHOPIAN, KASHMIR — April 3: A security clampdown and clashes continued for the third straight day on Tuesday after massive violence erupted following the killing of 20 people, including 13 rebels, four civilians and three Indian Army personnel over the weekend in disputed Kashmir. The violent weekend was one of the deadliest in the last 20 years of armed insurgency in the valley.
Another civilian was killed after he was fired upon with a pellet gun by government forces in north Kashmir, raising the civilian death toll to five, and over a dozen people were injured in clashes on Tuesday.
More than 200 civilians were injured in the clashes over the week. At least 50 had eye injuries from pellet guns. According to doctors at a local hospital in Srinagar, a few may lose their eyesight as a result of the injuries. Residents said government troops fired live ammunition and shotgun pellets into the crowds of mostly young protesters.
Authorities have suspended cellphone internet services in the entire valley for an indefinite period to prevent anti-India demonstrations from being organized.
Pro-freedom groups have called for a four-day shutdown in Kashmir to protest against the killings of Kashmiris by Indian forces and the government has announced the curfew in parts of the valley.
In south Kashmir, villages have increasingly turned into rebel strongholds following the killing of a popular commander, Burhan Wani, by Indian forces in 2016. Since then, more people have openly supported the cause of armed groups battling Indian rule in Kashmir.
Pakistan strongly condemned Sunday’s violence, registered a protest, and expressed solidarity with Kashmiris. “This mindless killing spree exposes, yet again, the ugly, inhuman face of the state-terrorism that India has been perpetrating against the Kashmiris for decades,” Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is “very concerned” over the situation in Jammu and Kashmir and wants all member states to protect their civilians, his spokesperson said in a statement on Monday.
Since the end of British colonial rule in 1947, Kashmir has been divided between rivals India and Pakistan. The two nuclear-armed countries have fought two of their three wars over Muslim-majority Kashmir, which they both claim in full but rule in part.
Ahmer Khan is an independent photo and radio journalist. He tweets at @ahmermkhan