Protests, gun shots, injury, and death – this is just a snapshot of the ongoing unrest in the southern part of Indian-administrated Kashmir.
Indian forces fired live rounds, tear gas, and pellets on Kashmiri civilians, resulting in the deaths of five civilians and 200 others with injuries.
The Kashmir crisis began when Indian soldiers blew up a house that they believed rebels to be hiding in. However, several clashes broke out in the town of Shopian where 13 suspected rebels and three Indian soldiers were killed. The police said the rebels were killed in three separate gun battles in the villages of Dialgam, Dragad, and Kachdora.
Anti-India protests have spread across Kashmir, with chants for freedom echoing across the white-capped warzone. Along with freedom, the people of Kashmir are protesting to resolve the Jammu and Kashmir dispute through the right to self-determination. Now, mobile internet access has been restricted to prevent further demonstrations and protests.
Cross-border shelling between India and Pakistan has intensified since January. Hundreds of villagers along the Line of Control or the de facto border between Indian and Pakistani-administered Kashmir have fled their homes, with each side accusing the other of targeting civilians.
India and Pakistan have fought three bloody wars over the Himalayan territory, with both sides claiming the entirety of it. Kashmir is one of the most militarized regions in the world; in fact, half a million Indian soldiers are stationed in the disputed territory and tens of thousands of people have been killed in this decades-old conflict.
In fact, anti-Indian sentiments runs deep in the Kashmiri Muslim population who support the rebels’ cause against Hindu rule. Kashmiris have been fighting for decades for self-determination or to merge with Pakistan.
The Pakistani Foreign Office condemned the Indian security forces as discriminatory, targeting the Kashmiri youth and systematically targeting the Kashmiri people. This recent tension reopens old wounds as it creates new ones.