Seven people were killed in a gun battle in Kashmir on Saturday, November 18th. Officials have identified six of those killed as separatists, while one was an Indian air force commando. State police chief, Shesh Paul Vaid, stated in an interview to reporters that Indian troops had reason to believe that separatists were hiding in the homes of civilians in the Hajin village. They proceeded to block off the northern section of the village in an effort to capture the militants, who had been linked to the Islamic militant group, Lashkar-e-Taiba. A brutal fight began once the militants attempted to escape from the village, ultimately leading to gunfire on both sides. According to Vaid, “The operation is over. All the six terrorists killed today were Pakistani.”
This most recent attack is the latest in a number of shootouts between Indian troops and militants in this state in northern India. A top Army officer recently claimed that over 190 militants have been killed by security forces this year alone. Kashmir has been the site of ongoing contention over the last three decades, as rebel groups have been fighting against India’s administration of the state. Rebels are fighting to either make the state independent of Indian control, or to merge it with the neighbouring country of Pakistan.
Another militant was killed this past weekend after being shot by security forces at a police party in Zakura. According to a police official, “Two policeman were injured and one militant was hit by a bullet, but he managed to escape from the spot. Soon after the shootout, government forces launched an intense search operation in the area which extended to Gulbagh area near Zakura.” The official went on to say that the body of the militant in question, Mugees Ahmad Mir, was later discovered in a nearby town. Large masses of protesters gathered to participate in the funeral of Mir and to express their collective support for the mission of the Islamic State. Mir’s mother expressed her despair in mourning her son, stating, “I won’t bury my son’s body till people from Shopian reach here, as they sheltered him for so long.”
The Indian authorities have implemented new measures this past week to prevent any additional bloodshed in this region. They imposed tough restrictions under eight police stations in Srinagar, the largest city in Kashmir, in light of the abundance of pro-Islamic State protests. Authorities also demanded the closure of schools and colleges on the day of Mir’s funeral services. Despite the high tensions between protesters and the police during this time, no further conflict has been reported.
It is clear that Kashmir is currently in a state of instability and social unrest, as made evident through these most recent acts of violence. Resistance groups have been fighting intermittently against Indian rule since 1989, and the separatists maintain an anti-India sentiment that is deeply pervasive in the daily lives of Kashmir’s citizens. Unfortunately, tensions in this region will continue to rise until progress is made in resolving the conflict between the separatists and the government.
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