Monday, July 6, 2020 | ePaper

Five killed in Kashmir's deadliest day since losing special status

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The Guardian :
Five people were killed in Indian-administered Kashmir on Wednesday, thought to be the deadliest day in the region since it was stripped of its autonomy this summer.
Two non-Kashmiris - an apple trader from Punjab and a migrant labourer - were killed in separate attacks by suspected militants in Shopian and Pulwama, south Kashmir. A second apple trader was in a critical condition.
Earlier on Wednesday security forces killed three alleged rebels near Bijbehara town, 28 miles south of the main city of Srinagar.
Kashmir has been under a security lockdown since 5 August when the Indian government scrapped its special status. Mobile phone services  
were restored for some users on Monday after a 72-day blackout but internet services remain suspended.
Before Delhi's announcement that it was to remove Kashmir's autonomy, the leader of the region's largest militant group, Hizbul Mujahideen, had warned that the move would make Indians in the territory legitimate targets.
Indian officials argued that removing Kashmir's special status, which granted it its own constitution and rules protecting land ownership, would bring greater development and rid the state of terrorism.
Some policy experts say the high death toll on Wednesday undermines such pledges. "The government's claims are really falling flat," said Khalid Shah, an associate fellow at the Observer Research Foundation. "My sense is that the violence is only going to increase, it's not going to decrease, and to what extent, where it leaves Kashmir, is very difficult to say."
An insurgency has waxed and waned on the Indian-administered side for three decades, and tens of thousands of people have been killed. Critics say Delhi's actions have undermined the political mainstream and created fertile ground for militant groups.
Kashmir's most prominent political and business leaders as well as the president of bar association are all in detention. Officials said such detentions were to prevent unrest, but others warned of a dangerous power vacuum.

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