Fierce gun battles leave 9 dead in India-controlled Kashmir
Iran Press TV
Sunday, 03 May 2020 6:18 PM
Five security personnel and four suspected militants have been killed during two separate fierce gun battles over the past 24 hours in Indian-controlled Kashmir.
Colonel Rajesh Kalia, an Indian army spokesman said in a statement on Sunday that four army personnel, including two officers, a counterinsurgency policeman and two militants died after a firefight in the village of Changimul near to the Line of Control (LoC), the de facto border that divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan.
Separately on Saturday, two suspected militants were killed by Indian security forces in a brief shootout in the Pulwama area of the southern Kashmir valley, police said.
Indian troops are in constant clashes with the armed groups seeking independence across the Muslim-majority valley of Kashmir.
Early last month at least five Indian troops and nine armed fighters were killed in two separate firefights over two days in the disputed Muslim-majority region.
The latest fighting came days after India introduced a new law that would make its citizens eligible to become permanent residents of the Indian-controlled Kashmir, raising fears of demographic change in the Muslim-majority, Himalayan region.
The new law was introduced as the country of 1.3 billion people is under a weeks-long lockdown in an attempt to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, raising speculation that the timing is intentional.
Indian-controlled Kashmir has been in a state of lockdown since August 5, when administration of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi stripped the region of its semi-autonomous status.
New Delhi dispatched thousands of additional troops to the region, declared a strict curfew, shut down telecommunications and internet services, and arrested political leaders and pro-independence campaigners as well.
New Delhi had promised special status to Kashmir when the region was partitioned between India and Pakistan seven decades ago.
However, Modi and his nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have long opposed Kashmir's autonomy.
After gaining a larger mandate from his Hindu power base in elections earlier last year, Modi's government wasted no time in implementing their manifesto of creating a Hindu-first nation, where Muslim opposition and dissent has no say and will be silenced.
India's decision in Kashmir has sparked protests from the local population and outrage from Pakistan.
Kashmir has long been a flash point between India and Pakistan, which have fought three of their four wars over the disputed Himalayan territory. Both countries rule parts of Kashmir while claiming it in full.
Cross-border frictions have recently flared up between troops from the two neighbors along the disputed de facto border in Kashmir. The two sides have accused each other of provocation.
India regularly accuses Pakistan of arming and training the fighters and allowing them across the restive frontier in an attempt to launch attacks. Pakistan denies the allegation.
Thousands of people have been killed in the unrest in Kashmir over the past two decades.
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