Kashmir sees increase in activist attacks, two teachers are the latest victims

SRINAGAR, Kashmir – Masked activists broke into a school in Kashmir, a predominantly Muslim region in India, demanding to know the relig...


SRINAGAR, Kashmir – Masked activists broke into a school in Kashmir, a predominantly Muslim region in India, demanding to know the religious identities of its teachers. Then they separated two non-Muslim teachers and shot them at close range, a police officer said.

Thursday’s killings in the city of Srinagar were the latest in a series of attacks largely targeting Hindu and Sikh civilians in Kashmir, once again alarming the rise of activism that has driven minority religious groups out of the country. the region almost three decades ago.

And they came at a time of great tension following the Indian government’s decision to strip Kashmir from its semi-autonomous status in 2019 and limit civil liberties in the region.

The police did not identify the attackers. But the Resistance Front, a little-known militant group operating in Kashmir that emerged after India decided to revoke the region’s autonomy, claimed responsibility for the attack.

Police in the area say suspected militants have killed 27 civilians this year, including seven – including three Muslims – in the past 10 days. Among the victims were a local pharmacist, a taxi driver and a member of a youth group.

“It is inhuman and barbaric,” said Waqar Ahmad, a Muslim from Kashmir, outside the school in Srinagar, the largest city in Kashmir, where the two teachers were killed.

“We are leading a political fight, not a religious one,” he said. “No one should be killed and certainly not for their religious identity. Those who killed them are not helping the Kashmiris.

Kashmiris fear that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to change the region’s status is aimed at shifting the demographics of India’s only Muslim-majority state by attracting more people – especially Hindus – from other parts of the country.

Mr. Modi’s government has also cracked down on democratic dissent in the region, placing under house arrest even leaders who have long supported the Indian state’s cause, sparking fears that hard-core activists will escalate their violent activities.

India has long accused neighboring Pakistan, which also controls part of Kashmir and claims the entire region, of orchestrating the recent violence. Pakistan has denied these accusations.

Dilbagh Singh, the top Indian police official in Kashmir, accused Pakistan of creating unrest in the region, saying it supports militant groups that are trying to destabilize the region and drive a wedge between Hindus and Muslims.

“People who have nothing to do with politics are targeted to create fear,” Singh said. “Such attacks aim to create tensions between Muslims in Kashmir and other communities. To give local Muslims a bad name.

The Resistance Front said on social media that it had “carried out the targeted attack on two non-locals who harassed the parents of the students to salute the occupier’s flag on August 15,” referring to the celebrations of india independence day. This year, for the first time in decades, Kashmiri schools were requested by the Indian government to hoist the Indian flag.

Police searched for suspects in neighborhoods in Srinagar on Thursday.

One of the two teachers killed, Deepak Chand, a Hindu, had recently moved to the Jammu region, where he lived for decades after rising separatist militancy forced an exodus of Hindus from Kashmir in the early 1990s. .

Among the small number of Kashmiri Hindus who remained behind was Makhan Lal Bindroo, a pharmacist. He was shot dead on Tuesday, among three civilians killed that day, in an act widely condemned by religious and separatist leaders and political activists.

Vikram Singh, a relative of Supinder Kaur, a Sikh who was the principal of the school and who was also killed on Thursday, said her family would not perform the last rites until the attackers were found.

“She too will become the victim of an ‘unidentified gunman’ – like everyone else killed in the past 30 years,” Singh said. “We will not perform any final rites until we find out why she was killed and for what reason. We want justice.

As mourners entered Ms Kaur’s home on Thursday, a Muslim woman, Safina Bano, stood outside the door crying. Ms Kaur gave her money from her salary every month so that she could send her children to school, Ms Bano said.

“She was a woman with a big heart and a lovely smile,” she said. “When she helped my children go to school, she didn’t think they were Muslim, Hindu or Sikh.

She added, “She didn’t deserve to die like this, no one should be killed like this.”

Iqbal Kirmani contributed reporting.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Kashmir sees increase in activist attacks, two teachers are the latest victims
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