Six militants and an army soldier were killed on Sunday early morning in Indian Kashmir, officials said, sparking violent protests by residents seeking an end of Indian rule in Jammu and Kashmir. The protests have led to the death of a teenage boy and injured 20 civilians.
Indian army spokesman Col. Rajesh Kalia said that based on the specify tip off, Joint team of Indian army and the Jammu and Kashmir police surrounded a village in the southern Shopian area early Sunday, leading to a fierce encounter.
The encounter lasted for several hours resulting in the killing of six Hizbul-Mujahideen, a local militant outfit and Pakistan based Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT).
Jammu and Kashmir police say four bodies of militants have been recovered so far and their identity is being ascertained.
Meanwhile, local reports say that the deceased militants include top Hizbul Mujahideen Commander Dr Saifullah. Others have been identified as LeT district commander Mushtaq Mir, Hizb district commander Abbas Ali, Omar Majeed Gani and Khalid Farooq urf Talha. The sixth one is suspected to be a Pakistani militant.
Earlier on Friday, six more militants linked to Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Hizb-ul Mujahideen, were killed in a gun battle with security forces in Jammu and Kashmir’s Anantnag district. With the last encounter, security forces have neutralized 12 militants in the past 72 hours.
Meanwhile, soon after the incident, violent protests and clashes spread in the area as hundreds of people marched near the encounter site of the gun battle in solidarity with militants.
“17-year-old youth Nouman Ashraf Bhat was killed during the clashes,” reported local media in Kashmir, adding that among 20 inured, three more are critical and have been moved to a major hospital in Srinagar for specialized treatment.
Local authorities have suspended mobile internet services in these areas. Schools and offices have also been closed in view of the growing tension.
What Kashmir wants
Kashmir is divided between rivals India and Pakistan and both claim the territory in its entirety. Most Kashmiris support the idea of an independent Kashmir and want both India and Pakistan to leave their administered areas.
In recent years in India, Kashmiri people have been openly taking to the streets demanding freedom and an end to India’s rule. For the last few years, many young and highly qualified locals have joined the ranks of militants and are fighting against the Indian forces in the Valley.
While calling youths with arms as misguided minds, India blames Pakistan for a fueling crisis in Kashmir and openly advocating hatred against the Indian state since 1989.