Life paralysed in Indian-controlled Kashmir day after violence claims 20 lives

Source: Xinhua| 2018-04-02 14:20:40|Editor: Chengcheng
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Indian paramilitary troopers stand guard on a street during restrictions in Srinagar city, the summer capital of Indian-controlled Kashmir, April 2, 2018. Life in Muslim majority areas of Indian-controlled Kashmir on Monday remained paralysed, one day after deadly violence claimed 20 lives and left over 150 injured. (Xinhua/Javed Dar)

by Peerzada Arshad Hamid

SRINAGAR, Indian-controlled Kashmir, April 2 (Xinhua) -- Life in Muslim majority areas of Indian-controlled Kashmir on Monday remained paralysed, one day after deadly violence claimed 20 lives and left over 150 injured.

On Sunday, gunfights and subsequent clashes between people and government forces left 13 militants, three troopers and four civilians dead. Another 150 civilians injured.

"In Shopian, the two gunfights on Sunday in village Draggad and Kachdoora left 12 militants and four civilians dead," a senior police official said. "Three troopers were also wounded fighting these militants."

According to police, one militant was killed, while as another laid down arms and surrendered in Anantnag village.

Officials said, of the 150 injured, over 40 civilians have suffered pellet wounds and few were hit by bullets.

Authorities fearing violence and protest demonstrations on Monday morning imposed restrictions in several parts of Srinagar and other sensitive towns. A senior separatist leader Mohammed Yasin Malik was detained by police and taken to police station. Malik's spokesman said he was picked up from Maisuma residence to prevent him from leading demonstrations.

Shops, businesses and offices remained closed in response to a shutdown call given by separatist groups to protest the killings. Vehicular traffic is off the roads and domestic train service has been suspended as a precautionary measure.

Police officials told Xinhua all the three gunfights triggered after contingents of police, paramilitary and army cordoned off three different villages on specific intelligence inputs about presence of militants.

"The areas were cordoned off during Saturday night and gunfight triggered just before the dawn on Sunday," a senior police official said. "While the gunfight in Anantnag was less intense, the two at Shopian were violent as army suffered three casualties."

Officials said in Shopian locals took to roads and clashed with government forces in a bid to help militants escape. The youth threw stones towards contingents of police and army, who retaliated by firing warning shots and pellet guns.

A senior Indian army official, General officer Commanding (GoC) A K Bhatt told media, of the slain militants two were involved in the last year's killing of an Indian army officer Lt. Ummer Fayaz.

The slain militants, according to police and army, were local cadres of Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Toiba.

Authorities have suspended internet services in the region fearing it would mobilize crowds.

Every time, violence erupts in the restive region, suspending internet and stopping rail service is a common government practice to prevent anti-India demonstrations.

On Sunday, no sooner the news about militant deaths reached other major towns, a spontaneous shutdown was observed as markets closed down and traffic went off the roads. Reports said at several places including Srinagar, anti-India protests erupted to show solidarity with the militants.

Thousands of residents joined funeral processions of the slain militants and locals late on Sunday.

People assembling at gunfight sites in support of militants and attacking government forces with stones has evolved as a new phenomenon of resistance in the region during recent years. Despite reprimand from police and army to stay away from the sites, people continue to ignore calls and readily defy restrictions.

Anti-India sentiment runs deep in the psyche of majority of Kashmiris. Irate residents take to roads and clash with police. The youth throw stones and brickbats on contingents of police and paramilitary, who respond by firing tear smoke shells, pellets and bullets, which often proves fatal.

The local government has announced closure of educational institutions on Monday as a precautionary measure fearing law and order problem. The universities have postponed the examinations scheduled for the day.

A separatist movement and guerilla war challenging New Delhi rule is going on in the region since 1989. The militants often carry out attacks on police and army in the region.

Gunfight between the two sides takes place intermittently.

Kashmir, the Himalayan region, divided between India and Pakistan, is claimed by both in full. Since their independence from Britain, the two countries have fought three wars, two exclusively over Kashmir.

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KEY WORDS: Kashmir