Muslim Times(Web Desk) – Three demonstrators, including a teenage girl, have been shot dead by Indian troops in Indian-controlled Kashmir, as tensions are escalating in the volatile region ahead of the anniversary of the killing of a popular separatist commander.
The deadly incident occurred on Saturday in the southern district of Kulgam after Indian soldiers opened live fire on a protest held by hundreds of people who voiced their strong dissent against an army search operation in the area for what was said to be suspected militants.
According to a government doctor at a sub-district hospital, the victims included a 16-year-old girl and two men aged 20 and 22. “The three had bullet injuries and succumbed soon after their arrival at the hospital,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Separately, police chief S. P. Vaid confirmed the deaths, saying the firing came after some protesters began hurling stones at soldiers, but he did not add further details.
The killings occurred on the eve of the second anniversary of the death of Burhan Wani, a charismatic 22-year-old independence fighter, who lost his life by the live fire of government forces two years ago on July 8.
Pro-independence fighters have called for a shutdown on Sunday to commemorate Wani, whose death triggered a constant wave of violent demonstrations that have so far killed at least 100 civilians and wounded thousands of others.
Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since the end of the British colonial rule in 1947. Both sides claim the Himalayan region in full. However, many people in New Delhi-controlled Kashmir, who are mainly Muslims, are opposed to Indian control and seek either autonomy or a merger with Pakistan.
New Delhi accuses Islamabad of supporting pro-independence fighters, an allegation rejected by the Pakistani government, which, in turn, is critical of India’s heavy military deployment to Kashmir, some 500,000 soldiers, and its crackdown against the region’s Muslim population.
Last month, the United Nations issued a report, calling for an investigation into purported abuses perpetrated by Indian security forces in Kashmir. New Delhi, however, rejected the report, lambasting it as “fallacious” and “tendentious.”