Five people were killed during a battle in Kashmir on Saturday night. Three rebel fighters and two Indian soldiers have died as a result of a skirmish that broke out over the contested land. According to AFP news agency, Indian soldiers received intel that rebel fighters from Pakistan were approaching the Kashmiri village of Awneera. This village, which is approximately 50 kilometres south of the main city of Srinagar, is part of the disputed area between the two nations. Kashmir was split between India and Pakistan upon the elimination of British colonial rule in 1947. However, both countries claim sole ownership over the land. As a result, rebel groups have been fighting Indian forces over this land since 1989.
Al Jazeera reported that the fighting began in the Shopian area. Muneer Khan, the Kashmiri police chief, stated, “we laid the cordon yesterday evening after we received information about the presence of five militants. In the morning, we were able to recover three bodies.” Khan added that the separatist fighters were allegedly part of the Hizbul Mujahideen group and that they encroached on the land from a surrounding village. Ahmed, a resident of the Awneera village commented, “today, when the encounter ended, clashes [between police and protesters] started and many people suffered bullet and pellet injuries. People from all the adjoining villages came to protest the (killings) because they are all from the same district.” He added, “How long can we bear this bloodshed? They are killing our brothers.”
Unfortunately, this is only one of several incidents that has ended in bloodshed over the last few weeks. A separate incident occurred roughly two weeks ago, when rebel fighters attacked an Indian army convoy in the northern area of Hajin, injuring two police officers and a soldier. A civilian and soldier were also killed in another recent attack, as Indian and Pakistani soldiers fought over the border of Kashmir. These rivals each administer part of the land, but the fight was sparked by the fact that both groups claim entire ownership over the Himalayan territory. While India is adamant about its full ownership of the land, rebel groups demand that the Kashmir region either be united under Pakistani rule or declared an independent country.
There is an increased solidarity among rebel civilians against the Indian leadership over recent months, and an anti-India sentiment has become prevalent among the Muslim population in Kashmir. The young people, in particular, have joined together in an effort to protest India’s alleged claim to the land. These protests have continued, despite the fact that an army chief in India claimed that “tough action” would be taken to thwart any counterinsurgency efforts they may attempt. As a result of these protests, tens of thousands of civilians and soldiers have been killed over the past three decades.
The Kashmir conflict has resulted in three wars since the partition of India in the late 1940s. The Indo-Pakistani Wars of 1947 and 1965, and the Kargil War of 1999 all clearly illustrate the violent nature of this land-based dispute. India and Pakistan have also fought with each other to gain control over the Siachen Glacier in the eastern Karakoram range of the Himalayas. In light of recent events, it is abundantly evident that the contentious relations between these two countries are becoming more destructive with each subsequent skirmish. Thus, it would be in the best interest of both parties to come together in order to resolve their disagreement and prevent any further bloodshed on behalf of this conflict.
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