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September 16, 2019

‘20 protests daily’ in held Kashmir despite lockdown

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September 16, 2019

ISLAMABAD/SRINAGAR: Indian troops killed three youths in the occupied Jammu region as the unprecedented military lockdown in Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir entered the 42nd day on Sunday, with an average of nearly 20 protests per day against Indian rule.

The troops killed two youths in an “encounter” in the Kathua district on Thursday, while another youth — identified as Akhlaq Ahmad Khan — was picked up by police from a market and was killed a few hours later at Janipur Police Station in Jammu, the Kashmir Media Service reported on Sunday. Indian authorities had not made Thursday’s killings public as yet. Akhlaq’s family members were called by the police over phone and were asked to collect his body from a Jammu hospital.

Advocate Raja Mahmood Khan, who is a friend of the deceased’s brother, told reporters that Akhlaq went to the market to buy some edibles but did not return and his mobile phone was switched off. After about 20 minutes, his brother got a call from his mobile phone and an unknown man told him he got the phone from the market.

Later, his brother also got another call from a policeman who informed him that Akhlaq was dead and his body was in hospital. “We came to know that it is a custodial death and we demand justice,” Khan said.

After hearing the news, family members of the victim and relatives reached the hospital and protested against the custodial killing and demanded action against the policemen involved in the murder.

Meanwhile, a senior government source told AFP that Indian-occupied Kashmir has seen an average of nearly 20 protests per day against Indian rule over the last six weeks despite a security lockdown to quell unrest.

Tensions remain high in the disputed Himalayan region after New Delhi’s controversial decision last month to revoke the territory’s decades old semi-autonomous status.Despite a curfew, movement restrictions and the severe curtailment of internet and mobile phone services, public demonstrations against India — mostly in the largest city Srinagar — have been constant, the source told AFP late on Saturday.

Altogether there have been 722 protests since August 5, with Baramulla district in the northwest and Pulwama in the south the biggest hotspots after Srinagar, the source said. Since that date, nearly 200 civilians and 415 security force members have been hurt, according to the source.

Ninety-five of the civilians were injured in the last two weeks, the official said. So far more than 4,100 people — including 170 local political leaders — have been detained across the valley, with 3,000 released in the past two weeks, the official said. It was unclear whether any politicians were among those released.

Indian authorities have so far insisted that outbreaks of violence have been minimal, and that only five civilians have died since the clampdown started. The relatives of four of those killed told AFP they believed the security forces were responsible for their deaths.

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