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  • People gather around the body of Zahoor Ahmad, a pro-freedom fighter killed by Indian soldiers, at his funeral in Sirnoo village in south Kashmir

    People gather around the body of Zahoor Ahmad, a pro-freedom fighter killed by Indian soldiers, at his funeral in Sirnoo village in south Kashmir's, Dec. 15, 2018. | Photo: Reuters

Published 16 December 2018

Indian forces open fired at a protesting group of civilians in Indian Occupied Kashmir, killing seven and injuring scores. 

Seven civilians died and dozens were injured when Indian forces fired live ammunition at people protesting the killing of three pro-freedom militants in a gun battle in Indian Occupied Kashmir Saturday, police said.

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Defense spokesman Colonel Rajesh Kalia said an operation was launched in the morning in response to intelligence reports about the presence of pro-freedom militants in Kharpora Sirnoo village in Pulwama district, south of the state's summer capital of Srinagar.

A senior police officer, who was not authorized to speak to the media, said large numbers of local people then gathered at the site, leading to clashes between them and security forces in which seven people were killed and about 50 injured.

These civilian killings at encounter sites generally occur when people get news of military encounters. Civilians throng the site to stop armed forces from killing rebels or to protest the killings. This results in indiscriminate firing on unarmed protesters, which adds to the mounting casualties since the start of the Indian occupation.

An eyewitness, Mohammad Ayuob, told Reuters, Indian troops fired at the locals when they tried to retrieve the body of a militant.

Omar Abdullah, former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir wrote on Twitter that these killings are nothing less than a massacre.

An eighth grade student, Aquib Bashir’s body was lying unidentified in a hospital bed until a man came across him and subsequently fainted after realizing he was his son.

Another civilian killed during the clashes was Abid Hussain Lone who went out to buy milk for his infant daughter but never returned alive. Abid was living in Indonesia and returned home with his Indonesian wife and daughter last year. Now his wife wants to go back to Indonesia.

Widespread protests have broken out in Srinagar and other parts of Kashmir over the killings. A curfew was imposed in the town of Pulwama and the surrounding areas, according to media reports.

The Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) called for a three-day strike and for protests across Kashmir.

"Bullets and pellets rain!" JRL’s Mirwaiz Umar Farooq tweeted, adding that their supporters would march towards an army barracks in Badami Bhag Monday so that the Indian government can "kill all of us at one time rather than killing us daily".

Occupying authorities have suspended train services in the Kashmir Valley and shut down mobile internet services.

Indian forces say they have killed 242 militants this year. In addition, 101 civilians and 82 people from armed forces have also died, according to officials. The total death toll in violence is the highest in more than a decade.

The occupation started in October 1947 when Maharaja Hari Singh, the then ruler of Kashmir, acceded the valley into Indian territory despite the opposition of Kashmiris.

Then-Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru after the accession of Kashmir to Indian territory promised a plebiscite to the natives. The promise has not been fulfilled yet by any of the successive administrations. Instead, the central government has allowed an increased body count of Kashmiris by Indian forces.

In 1987, insurgency rose in Kashmir after an election held in the India-controlled Jammu and Kashmir strengthened the standing of the pro-independence insurgency. The rigged election by the Indian government led to a series of protests which resulted in the Indian army's deployment in Kashmir in 1989.

Since the 1990s Indian troops greatly increased military attacks on the insurgencies and acting with impunity under the banner of fighting the insurgency.


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