Protest starts as Indian forces kill rebel leader in Kashmir

Protests take place on streets of Kashmir in disputed Himalayan region, following death of top rebel leader by Indian forces

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Kashmiri Muslim villagers pray by the bodies of suspected rebels, during their funeral at Barhama, 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, Monday, Oct. 5, 2015

Protests took place on the streets of Kashmir in the disputed Himalayan region, following the death of a top rebel leader who was killed by Indian forces on Thursday.

Indian Police Director- General K. Rajendra Kumar said that "Abu Qasim was a Pakistani national and operations chief of the Lashkar-e-Taiba rebels group, which India blames for several attacks across the country, including the 2008 Mumbai attack that killed 166 people."

There was no independent confirmation or comments from rebels fighting against the Indian rule in Kashmir. However, as the news spread, hundreds of people tried to march to the site of the clashes, throwing rocks at government forces and setting up road barricades.

Hundreds of people started to demonstrate against Indian forces while forces responded with tear gas.

Syed Javaid Mujtaba Gillani, another police officer, said that the police and army launched an operation on Wednesday night in Kulgam, 70 kilometres (45 miles) south of Indian Kashmir's main city of Srinagar, following a tip that Qasim was in the area. He was killed as he tried to break the cordon and flee the region early on Thursday.

Gillani said that Qasim was highly mobile and responsible for motivating, recruiting and training rebels in the past five years.

He also added that Qasim planned and executed some of the deadliest attacks against government forces.

Gillani said that "after Altaf's killing, it was not only professional, but also personal duty for us to get him [Qasim].’’

As India blames Pakistan for the funding and training of the rebels, Islamabad defends itself as a moral and diplomatic supporter of rebels against India forces in Kashmir.

Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan, but claimed in its region by both. Since 1989, rebels groups have been fighting for Kashmir's independence or being united with neighbouring Pakistan. Over 68,000 people have been killed by the conflict between rebels and Indian forces.

TRTWorld and agencies