Unrest in Kashmir Fuels Violent Protests, Beheading, Travel Restrictions, Gunfights

Indian Kashmiris clash with police in Srinagar on April 1
AFP HABIB NAQASH

Indian-administered Kashmir is facing widespread unrest involving violent clashes between student protesters and Indian police, the beheading of a man by Pakistan-linked terrorists, and deadly gunfights pitting security forces against militants, all of which ultimately prompted authorities to impose travel restrictions.

Pakistan, its ally China, and their rival India all have competing claims to the predominantly Muslim Himalayan region of Kashmir.

India’s Outlook magazine reports, referring to Easter Sunday:

Indian security forces on Sunday gunned down 13 militants in three counter-insurgency operations that also claimed the lives of three Army [soldiers] and four civilians in Anantnag and Shopian districts of [India-controlled Kashmir].

The situation in the portion of the Kashmir controlled by India prompted Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif to accused India of trying to resolve the Kashmir dispute “through the barrel of the gun.”

On Friday — “Kashmir Solidarity Day” observed in Pakistan —Minister Asif declared, “The recent killings of 20 unarmed civilians in Indian Kashmir are again a manifestation of the Indian policy of trying to resolve the dispute through the barrel of the gun.”

Although India describes some of the men gunned down by Indian troops as militants, Pakistan describes them all as civilians.

Despite a 2003 ceasefire, India and Pakistan have repeatedly clashed along the Line of Control (LoC), the border that separates the regions they respectively control in Kashmir.

China is known to primarily stay in the shadows of the disputes between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, but it provides Islamabad with military and economic support.

While India accuses Pakistan of backing Islamic terrorists in Kashmir, Islamabad blames New Delhi of violently oppressing pro-Pakistan separatists.

The killing of civilians at the hands of Indian troops also fueled the violent clashes that erupted between student protesters and Indian police across the city of Srinagar in Indian-held Kashmir.

Al-Jazeera reports:

Indian security forces fired tear gas at demonstrators on Thursday as they were protesting against the recent killings of 20 people, including separatist fighters and civilians by government troops in south Kashmir’s Shopian district.

On Friday, authorities in Indian-controlled Kashmir recovered the decapitated body of a 24-year-old man, a day after suspected militants affiliated with the Pakistan-linked Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorist group abducted him, reports Hindustan Times.

Moreover, the Indian army in Kasmir killed an “unidentified militant” on Friday, reports India’s Firstpost news outlet.

The unrest has driven authorities in Indian-administered Kashmir to imposed travel restrictions “as a precautionary measure to maintain law and order in view of protests called by separatists and strike by trade bodies,” points out the Press Trust of India (PTI).

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has expressed concern over the situation in Kashmir.

“The secretary-general has expressed and will continue to express his concern at the situation. I think we spoke about it earlier in the week, reminding all parties of the need to protect civilians,” Stephane Dujarric, a spokesman for the U.N. chief, said on Thursday, acknowledges PTI.

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