Martyr: Thousands throng funeral for youngest Kashmiri fighter

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News Analysis |

Thousands of mourners thronged the funeral on Monday of a 14-year-old rebel shot dead by Indian troops in Kashmir, the youngest-ever fighter killed in the decades-long insurgency, police said.

A funeral procession Monday for the slain teenagers turned violent as mourners clashed with police, who used tear gas to drive them back. Rebels fighting for Kashmiri independence or a merger with Pakistan have been warring with Indian troops in the disputed territory since the late 1980s.

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.

The violence has left tens of thousands dead, mostly civilians. But this year has been the deadliest in a decade in Kashmir, with rights monitors saying more than 500 people have been killed from armed conflict.

Many young men die fighting Indian troops but Parrey’s death shocked even a region weary from years of bloodshed. At 14, police said he was the youngest known fighter to have died in the insurgency.

Read more: Arbitration clause on Kashmir: A plausible solution

He was killed in an 18-hour siege by Indian troops in Hajin, outside Srinagar. The home Parrey and the two other militants were holed up in was blasted to rubble. “He had never failed in school exams,” mourned his father, Rashid. The teenager also sometimes worked as a laborer to help out with family expenses, he added.

Many Kashmiris sympathize with the fighters fighting half a million Indian troops stationed in the heavily-militarised Muslim-majority region. Civilians often pelt soldiers with stones while they are conducting search operations for militants, and funerals for slain fighters draw thousands of mourners and see shops closed.

The young militants’ deaths sparked angry protests in the restive Himalayan region administered by India but also claimed in full by Pakistan.

New Delhi has long accused Islamabad of stoking anti-India sentiment in the region and funding militant groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba fighting in Kashmir.

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 freedom 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.

Read more: The new Indian Attack on the people of Kashmir

After the UN ordered a ceasefire and subsequent UN resolutions calling for a plebiscite, India backtracked from its earlier agreements and started a campaign of militarization to subjugate the part of Kashmir in its control. The Kashmiri people continued their efforts for self-determination.

Indian state brutality has been increasing in Occupied Kashmir due to two factors: a resurgence in the Kashmiri Independence movement after the death of famous freedom fighter Burhan Wani and the election of the Hindutva fundamentalist BJP to power.

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