India sends more troops to Jammu and Kashmir

Region tense on eve of 1-year anniversary of militant’s death

 

SRINAGAR(AA)-A day before the first anniversary of the death of Kashmiri militant commander Burhan Wani, Indian authorities on Friday increased the presence of its armed forces and imposed curfew-like restrictions on several parts of the disputed region.

Internet access was blocked late on Thursday night and roads across the region were patrolled by Indian armed forces. According to a source in the police department, phones will be disconnected on Friday night.

Thursday also saw an increased number of soldiers, barricades and checkpoints on the streets.

Indian Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi told reporters in New Delhi on Thursday thousands of troops had been sent to the region for the anniversary.

Resistance group Hurriyat has called for protests to mark Wani’s anniversary.

Wani, a 22-year-old Kashmiri militant commander with the Hizbul Mujahideen, was killed last year on July 8 in a gunfight with Indian forces.

His death sparked off yet another popular revolt in the region with tens of thousands of people taking to the streets.

The revolt lasted around four months and saw India sending additional soldiers to contain the unrest. Around 100 civilian protesters were killed and, according to hospital records, around 15,000 were wounded; several were permanently blinded by pellet guns used by Indian soldiers on Kashmiri civilians during demonstrations against Wani’s death.

Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.

The two countries have fought three wars — in 1948, 1965 and 1971 — since they were partitioned in 1947, two of which were fought over Kashmir. Kashmiri resistance groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.

More than 70,000 people have reportedly been killed in the conflict since 1989. India maintains more than half a million troops in the disputed region.