Five things to know about Indian-held Kashmir

By AFP September 19, 2016 10:29

Five things to know about Indian-held Kashmir

Here are five things to know about the territory:


What are they fighting for?


Kashmir has been divided between India and neighbouring Pakistan since the end of British colonial rule in 1947 – but both claim it in full and two of their three wars have been fought over it.

Kashmiris are fighting for an independence of the Indian-held portion of the region or its merger with Pakistan.

Tens of thousands of people have died since the revolt that broke out in 1989, most of them civilians.


Who are the armed groups?


Several separatist groups have been fighting Indian troops for decades in the Muslim-majority region.

About 200 separatists, most of them local, are thought to be active across the Kashmir Valley, down from several thousand at the height of the insurgency in the 1990s.

Hizbul Mujahideen is one of the largest separatist groups, while the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front is among those demanding the region’s independence.


Why has violence flared recently?


Violence has erupted on almost daily basis in Kashmir since the killing of a popular young separatist leader, Buran Wani, in a gun battle with soldiers on July 8.

Stone-throwing residents protesting against Indian rule have clashed with security forces in the worst unrest since 2010 when weeks of protests convulsed the region.

India accused Pakistan of sending rebels across the de facto border into held Kashmir to further destabilise the territory, which the latter denied.


What’s been happening in the region?


More than 100 civilians have been killed and thousands injured in the clashes between residents and security forces since Wani was killed.

A curfew has been imposed for weeks to halt the violence, although it has been lifted recently in some areas. Internet and mobile networks have been cut and schools, shops and most banks remain shut.

India also banned prayers in the city of Srinagar’s main mosque to mark the Muslim festival of Eid this month in a bid to defuse tensions.


How has India responded?


India has cracked down on the protests, saying there is no room for violence.

But it is also under pressure over the number of civilian casualties. It has agreed to curb security forces’ use of shotguns loaded with pellets on protesting crowds that have left thousands with severe eye injuries making them blind.

New Delhi has also accused Islamabad of stoking the recent unrest, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi squarely holding Pakistan as the “one single nation” responsible for spreading “terrorism” in South Asia.

Already tense relations between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan have been on edge since January, when militants attacked an Indian air force base, killing seven soldiers. Pakistan, on the other hand, has always denied the allegations.



By AFP September 19, 2016 10:29

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