Pro-independence Kashmiri activist shot dead

Unidentified gunmen kill Tehreek-e-Hurriyat party member Muhammad Altaf Sheikh in occupied Kashmir

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Gunmen shot dead a pro-independence activist, who was a government pharmacist and a member of Kashmiri resistance leader of Syed Ali Shah Geelani's Tehreek-e-Hurriyat party, in the Indian occupied Kashmiri town of Sopore on Tuesday.

Indian police said "some militants" fired multiple rounds from point blank range towards Mohammad Altaf Sheikh and he succumbed to bullet injuries - two in head, one in the neck and one in the chest - in a Srinagar hospital.

Meanwhile the resistance leadership has blamed Indian intelligence agents for the killing and has vowed revenge.

35-year-old Sheikh was shot dead outside his home when he was returning from a 12-hour shift at the hospital, according to police officials. He was a vocal opponent of the Indian occupation of Kashmir and the son of the head of the Jamaat-e-Islami party in Sopore.

Police sources said Lashkar-e-Islam, a previously unknown group, is responsible for the murder. They blamed the same group for the recent attacks against telecom offices and towers in the region that killed two people last month.

But Kashmiri resistance groups say Lashkar-e-Islam is a “government sponsored group” trying to “bring disrepute to the resistance movement in the disputed land.” Kashmiri leader Geelani described the attacks as “un-Islamic” and the “handiwork of Indian agencies.”

Sheikh had spent years in prison for his role in resistance politics. His brother, scholar Sheikh Rouf, was also killed along with three other civilians while in the army's custody.

Sheikh's death led to the shutdown of businesses, government offices and educational institutions on Tuesday and thousands of people attended his funeral, chanting pro-independence and anti-Indian slogans.

Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan, and two countries have fought over the region since the partition of India in 1947.

Since 1989 Kashmiri resistance groups in Indian-held Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence or unification with neighbouring Pakistan.

More than 100,000 Kashmiri people have been killed under the occupation, with thousands of people having disappeared or being sent to jail. Kashmiri women have also reported gang rapes by Indian forces, while torture and the deliberate torching of entire villages have also been reported.

TRTWorld and agencies