–Eighth-grader among 200 injured as troops open fire on civilians protesting freedom fighters’ martyrdom in Pulwama district
–Pakistan condemns India’s terrorism in occupied valley
–Saturday’s massacre caps deadliest year in disputed region since 2009, with nearly 550 killed so far
SRINAGAR: At least 14 Kashmiris were killed as Indian troops opened fire on protesters after a gunfight that left three youths martyred and a soldier dead in the disputed region of Kashmir on Saturday.
According to reports, the Indian armed forces, in their fresh act of state terrorism, laid siege to a house in the southern Pulwama area of India-held Kashmir (IHK) and shot three freedom fighters dead during a cordon and search operation in the Kharpora Sirnoo area of the district.
Earlier, two Indian soldiers were injured in an attack in the area, one of whom had later succumbed to his injuries.
Amid the gunfight, hundreds of villagers took to streets and marched towards the house under siege, raising slogans in support of the freedom fighters and pelting the troops with stones, Kashmir Media Service (KMS) reported.
Another 11 persons were killed when Indian troops opened fire on the protesting locals, while several others suffered serious injuries due to tear gas shelling and use of pellet guns. One of the casualties was a student of the 8th grade.
PAKISTAN CONDEMNS MASSACRE:
Pakistan strongly condemned the ruthless killing of 14 innocent Kashmiris at the hands of the Indian occupying forces.
“The Indian firing also left another 200 people injured,” Foreign Office spokesperson said in a statement on Twitter.
“From blinding an 18-month baby Hiba, to murdering 14-year-old Kashmiri boys, India makes a mockery of human rights every day in IHK,” the spokesperson said.
He added that the establishment of the commission of inquiry, as recommended by the Office of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, was imperative to bring an immediate halt to Indian state-sponsored terrorism and human right abuses in the disputed region.
Former IHK chief minister Omar Abdullah termed the Pulwama civilian killings as a massacre.
In a statement on his Twitter handle, he said the government forces used excessive force and that there was no other reason as to why the death toll had swollen. He added that the only way to describe the killings was to call it a “massacre”
Jammu and Kashmir National Conference president said the administration of the valley had only one task to focus on the security of the people and restore peace in a troubled region. “However, it appears that’s the only thing the administration is not doing.”
It is pertinent to note that Saturday’s bloodshed capped the deadliest year in the region since 2009, with nearly 550 killed so far, including some 150 civilians, according to a monitoring group.
Earlier this month, a former Indian army general had said that the Indian army created a suitable environment to resolve the long-pending Kashmir issue, but the elected governments of the country “failed to find any solution to it”.
According to KMS, Lt Gen (R) H S Panag, who was posted as General Officer Commanding of the Indian army’s Northern Command, Udhampur in Kashmir, wrote in The Print that the “unpopular coalition government could not provide the healing touch in Jammu and Kashmir”.
“The current situation in Jammu and Kashmir, particularly in the valley, is a classic example of our dithering political strategy,” Panag had said in his column.
“Politics did come to the fore, but instead of a solution, we saw the revival of the insurgency,” he had added.