By: Katherine Hewitt
News Reporter, Asia
KASHMIR, India – In Southern Kashmir, conflict between soldiers and rebels left 19 dead over March 31st and April 1st.
The government raided three villages, Dialgam, Dragad, Kachdora in the Shopian district, in response to a tip-off that rebels were present. They were members of the largest rebel party in Kashmir – Hizbul Mujahideen. During the ensuing gun battle, 13 rebels were killed. Among them were top commanders. Three soldiers were also killed.
Villagers marched in the direction of the conflict to help the rebels get away in the confusion. Indian soldiers fired live ammunition into the crowds. As one villager Manzoor Ahmad noted: “The forces fired live ammunition at the civilians. Several young people received pellet injuries in their eyes; two people received bullets in front of my eyes.” In the end 4 civilians lost their lives and more than 25 were wounded. Homes were also damaged in the conflict. It was reported that the Indian forces attached civilian homes with explosives.
On April 1, many villagers took to the streets protesting the previous day and nights events. They chanted anti-India slogans and demanded the end of Indian rule.
As a result, the government has restricted mobile internet access in the region and cut off train routes. Additionally, paramilitary troopers were rushed into volatile parts of Kashmir to guard the streets and prevent future protests. Some areas are now under curfew as well.
The separatist leaders in response to the killings called for a citywide shutdown. Many business have also participated in the shutdown.
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Author: Katherine Hewitt
Katherine Hewitt is a first year Masters of Arts in International Affairs candidate in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. She is pursuing a concentration in Peace, Security, and Conflict. Her interests lie in ethnic conflicts, particularly in the Post-Soviet Sphere. She expects to graduate in December 2018.