Home Global Village Driver killed by soldiers as Indian atrocities in IOK continue

Driver killed by soldiers as Indian atrocities in IOK continue

Indian

News Analysis |

Hundreds of residents clashed with police in the northern part of Indian-administered Kashmir after soldiers killed a civilian driver who was mistaken for a “rebel”, officials and residents said. The recent killing is the latest in a storm unleashed by Indian forces in the disputed territory to cow down a vibrant independence movement.

Asif Iqbal, 25, was shot dead on Saturday night when he left his home to transport an ailing neighbour to hospital. His killing sparked clashes between paramilitary police in Thindpura village and residents, who refused to bury Iqbal’s body.

India has laid out a smokescreen of falsehood and is indulging in a false propaganda by declaring the freedom movement of Kashmiri people as terrorism duly abetted by Pakistan.

“He died after getting injured in the firing just outside his home. He was preparing to ferry some patient[s] in his cab. He was targeted by the army without any fault, everything was normal here. It was a cold-blooded murder,” Sajan Ahmad Shah, who lives in the nearby village, told Al Jazeera.

The officials said that the army had laid an ambush on Saturday evening in Thindpura village, in north Kashmir’s frontier Kupwara district, which borders the heavily militarised de facto border between India and Pakistan.

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“Based on information of presence of terrorists in Thindpura village, the army placed ambushes to maintain surveillance over the area … At around 22:55 hours, an ambush party observed suspicious movement of three persons …. The individuals were challenged by troops; however, they did not respond,” the army said in a statement.

“Thereafter, terrorists opened fire towards army ambush party which was retaliated. In the crossfire, one person, later identified as Asif Iqbal Bhat, resident of Thindpura, was killed due to a gunshot wound. It is learnt that he was a sumo taxi driver,” the army said. As news of the driver’s death spread along with the clashes, the authorities ordered a shutdown of mobile internet service to prevent the protests from spreading to other areas.

Extra-judicial killings, fake encounters, arbitrary and unlawful detentions without trials, torture and deaths of detainees, sexual harassment, rape and night raids have become a part of the norm.

Soon after news of the driver’s death spread, people from nearby villages took to the streets, raising anti-India slogans that also triggered clashes in the area on Sunday, locals said. About half a dozen people were injured in the clashes.

Internet services are frequently suspended in Kashmir valley as a measure to contain the local population. The region of Kashmir is a flashpoint between the two nuclear-armed powers of South Asia. The dispute began when during the partition of the British occupied subcontinent, the refusal of the area’s hereditary ruler Hari Singh to comply with his people’s wishes led to a rebellion.

Faced with losing his fiefdom to a people’s army aided by tribesman from across the border, the ruler acquiesced to India in return for military aid. This led to a war between newly found India and Pakistan and later on the division of Kashmir into Azad Kashmir and IOK.

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However, Indian militarization was unable to break the will of the Kashmiri populace desiring self-determination. Despite agreeing to a UN-ordered plebiscite, India has not fulfilled its promise, instead, it turned Kashmir into the most militarized zone on Earth.

Since its occupation, IOK has faced wave after wave of unrest caused by the local campaign for self-determination to which New Delhi has largely responded with more and more brutality. The latest wave, which ignited after the death of a local popular rebel, Burhan Wani, in 2016, has captured the attention of a global audience.

The officials said that the army had laid an ambush on Saturday evening in Thindpura village, in north Kashmir’s frontier Kupwara district, which borders the heavily militarised de facto border between India and Pakistan.

Burhan Wani’s death has seen an increase in intolerable human right abuses by the occupying Indian forces. The whole Northern Command of the Indian Army is deployed in the valley. Data from Kashmir’s hospitals show over 6,000 people – including children as young as four and teenage girls – had suffered pellet injuries, with over 1,100 hit in the eyes.

Extra-judicial killings, fake encounters, arbitrary and unlawful detentions without trials, torture and deaths of detainees, sexual harassment, rape and night raids have become a part of the norm. There are tens of hundreds of unknown and unmarked mass graves.

Read more: Calling Kashmir issue a territorial dispute is in itself dehumanizing?

Thousands of bullet-ridden bodies are buried in mass graves. 940 unidentified graves were discovered in Uri alone. In order to hide its brutal dirty war, India has laid out a smokescreen of falsehood and is indulging in a false propaganda by declaring the freedom movement of Kashmiri people as terrorism duly abetted by Pakistan.

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