Kashmir: Civilian killed on eve of Indian visit
Some 50 injuries reported among protesters, in addition to death of 23-year-old, before Indian lawmakers' visit.
Zahid Rafiq - SRINAGAR, Indian-held Kashmir (AA) - The Indian Army killed a 23-year-old civilian on Saturday evening, while some 50 civilians were reportedly wounded, both on the eve of a visit by Indian parliamentarians to Indian-held Kashmir.
Since July 8, Indian forces have killed 73 Kashmiri civilians and wounded over 8,000 in efforts to quell the massive pro-independence uprising in the disputed region.
Basit Ahmad Ahanger was killed when police and paramilitary forces fired pellets on protestors in the village of Vessu in Qazigund, south Kashmir.
“He was dead on arrival to the hospital, with multiple pellet injuries on his body,” Anantnag district hospital Chief of Medicine Fazil Kochak told Anadolu Agency.
Pellet guns (buckshot) are being used by Indian forces in Kashmir as a “non-lethal weapon” but have so far caused several deaths and blinded over 600 civilian protestors.
Pro-independence protests continued across Indian-held Kashmir for the 57th day today.
Later on Saturday evening, people in the Srinagar’s city center Lal chowk also reportedly found the dead body of a young man in the Jehlum River.
According to eyewitnesses, there were numerous pellet scars all over his body.
According to a senior police official, speaking to Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity as he is not allowed to talk to the media, more than 50 civilians were wounded by Indian forces today.
“More than 30 people were injured in Anantnag and there were many more protests where our police had to resort to violence and so far we have information about over 50 injured,” the official said.
The pro-independence protests and civilian casualties come one day before an all-party delegation of Indian parliamentarians is supposed to visit to take stock of the two-month long uprising that has crippled the Indian-backed government in the disputed region.
The Kashmiri resistance leadership, all of whom is under arrest, has already boycotted any meeting with the delegation, calling it a “futile exercise.”
Syed Ali Shah Geelani, a top leader in the pro-independence Hurriyat conference, said that experience with India has taught them that talks never yield any results, while India uses them to sow confusion and buy time during uprisings.
Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full.
The two countries have fought three wars – in 1948, 1965 and 1971 – since they were partitioned in 1947, two of which were fought over Kashmir.
Since 1989, Kashmiri resistance groups in the Indian-held section have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.
More than 70,000 people have reportedly been killed in the conflict so far, most of them by the Indian Armed Forces. India maintains more than half a million troops in the disputed regions.
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