Kashmir: Indian forces kill five as protests intensify

Indian security forces killed five and injured 10 others during protests against the killing of Pakistan-based Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Kashmiri villagers shout slogans during a funeral of civilians, who were killed during clashes between police and protesters in Beerwah, north of Srinagar on August 16, 2016.

Indian security forces on Tuesday killed five protesters and injured 10 in renewed clashes.

The clashes erupted after crowds who were angered by the killing of a separatist militant in disputed Kashmir, pelted security forces with stones and defied a curfew, officials said.

Indian-ruled Kashmir has witnessed violent protests since July 8, when security forces killed a field commander of Pakistan-based militant group Hizbul Mujahideen who enjoyed widespread support in the Muslim-majority region.

A protester throws stones towards the Indian police during a protest in Srinagar against the recent killings in Kashmir, August 9, 2016. Image: Reuters

Kashmir also saw an upsurge in violence around India's Independence Day holiday on Monday, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the country would not bow to terrorism and accused neighbour and archrival Pakistan of glorifying it.

A picture of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani is held up during a rally condemning the violence in Kashmir, in Islamabad, Pakistan July 24, 2016. Image: Reuters

A senior police official said hundreds of protesters threw stones at security forces as they tried to restore order on the streets of Budgam, a district 30 km south of Srinagar, the state's summer capital.

The latest casualties came as security forces opened fire with automatic rifles, a step up from their earlier use of shotguns, whose pellets are meant to incapacitate but not kill.

Locals say the shotguns have inflicted severe injuries and even blinded hundreds of people, among them innocent bystanders.

Indian troops killed a total of seven militants on Monday in two incidents.

Five of them were gunmen who had attempted a cross-border incursion and two more, who had attacked a Srinagar police station.

One officer died in the police station shootout.

At least 64 people have been killed and thousands injured during 39 days of protests, while schools, shops, banks and offices remain closed in much of Kashmir as paramilitary troops patrol arterial roads, residential areas and mosques.

Indian policemen take up a position behind a jeep near the site of a gunfight between Indian Security Forces and suspected militants in Srinagar, August 15, 2016. Image: Reuters

Kashmir is at the centre of a decades-old rivalry between India and Pakistan, which also rules its northern part, and backed an insurgency in the late 1980s and 1990s that Indian security forces largely crushed.

Both countries claim Kashmir in full.

New Delhi has rejected Pakistan's invitation to hold talks on the future of Jammu and Kashmir, India's northernmost state, and Modi said he had received messages of support from leaders in restive parts of Pakistan.

In a speech on Monday, Modi accused Pakistan of committing atrocities in its own province of Baluchistan, escalating a war of words that Islamabad said was intended to divert attention from the troubles in Indian-administered Kashmir.

Modi's defence minister Manohar Parrikar, raised the temperature further on Tuesday, saying Indian troops had "sent back five terrorists yesterday".

He told a rally, "Going to Pakistan is the same as going to hell."