• Monday, February 06, 2023


Kashmir: Shelling claims life of woman

Rising violence: A Kashmiri student throws a stone towards Indian police during a protest in Srinagar (Reuters)

By: RithikaSiddhartha

A WOMAN was killed while her husband suffered injuries in Jammu and Kashmir following mortar shelling by Pakistani troops today (11).

A shell hit a village in Nowshera sector in Rajouri district, killing Akhtar Bi and injuring her husband Mohmmad Hanief (40).

“The Pakistani Army fired from small arms and automatic weapons from 10:40 last night on Indian Army posts along the LoC (line of Control),” an Indian defence spokesman said

Forward posts and civilian areas were also targeted by shelling, he added.

“The Indian Army posts are retaliating strongly and effectively. The firing is presently on,” the spokesman said.

There have been six ceasefire violations in April and the latest incident comes after the beheading of two Indian soldiers by Pakistan’s Border Action Team on May 1.

India’s ministry of home has said at least one incident of ceasefire violation by Pakistan took place daily along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir in 2015 and 2016 in which 23 security personnel lost their lives.

As many as 1,142 terror incidents were reported in the state between 2012 and 2016, leading to the deaths of 236 security personnel and 90 civilians, it said.

The sharp rise in violence in recent weeks is more spontaneous than before, complicating the task of Indian security forces.

“We can ensure that militant numbers remain relatively low and we have stopped the weapons flow. The bigger challenge is how to control protesters, how to engage with them,” said one senior army official, who asked not to be named.

When security forces entered a college last month in Pulwama, 30 km (19 miles) south of Kashmir’s summer capital of Srinagar, hundreds of students threw stones at their vehicles before fighting pitched battles inside college corridors and bathrooms.

Within days, widespread protests forced most colleges and secondary schools in Indian Kashmir to close. Teenaged girls took to the streets for the first time in years. At least 100 protesters were wounded.

“Every student is trying to say that we … want nothing to do with India,” a 19-year-old protester said in the backroom of a Pulwama restaurant, as security forces clashed with locals on the outskirts of town.

He asked not to be named because his father was a policeman.

A local police chief said security forces were steering clear of campuses to avoid provoking more violence.

Police were appealing to parents to ensure children “do not indulge” in violence, Kashmir inspector general of police SJM Gillani said, adding that most areas were back under control.

Unrest has simmered in Kashmir, home to a separatist movement for decades, since last July, when a popular militant leader was killed, sparking months of clashes that left more than 90 civilians dead.

India’s former spy chief, AS Dulat, said the Kashmir situation “has never been so bad”.

Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, leader of a moderate Kashmiri separatist faction, said protesters were for the first time ignoring calls to stop.

New Delhi has stuck to its tough line, demanding an end to violence before talking with separatists.

“All these activities of stone pelting have to stop. Then will the government consider talking,” said K.S. Dhatwalia, a home ministry spokesman.

Politicians also say that, in contrast to earlier unrest, there is no obvious leader to negotiate with.

(PTI, Reuters)

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