Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 August 2020

Kashmir: Clashes erupt after Indian troops kill civilian

Victim’s father claims paramilitaries killed his son in cold blood

Hundreds of angry demonstrators clashed with government troops in Indian-administered Kashmir on Wednesday after soldiers shot dead a young man at a checkpoint, officials said.

The man's death came amid heightened tension in the Muslim-majority Himalayan region after New Delhi scrapped its semi-autonomous status and imposed a strict curfew to quell unrest.

Mehrajuddin Peer Shah, 25, was driving his car when paramilitary soldiers shot him near a checkpoint in the outskirts of Srinagar, the disputed region's main city.

The police said Shah ignored signals to stop at two checkpoints "in suspicious conditions" before troops fired at the vehicle.

He was taken to hospital but died from his injuries, the police said in a statement.

Shah's father, Ghulam Nabi, denied the police claims and said his son was shot and killed in cold blood.

"Had soldiers fired at his vehicle while fleeing any checkpoint, his car would have got bullet marks," Mr Nabi said in Srinagar.

Witnesses said Shah left his car to answer questions from soldiers at the checkpoint, before he was shot as he got back into the vehicle, AFP reported.

Civilians in Kashmir have been shot at checkpoints in the past, but this was the first incident in several months.

It took place under a nationwide lockdown in India to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

Thousands of soldiers and police have been stationed at checkpoints across the restive territory to limit public movement.

An inquiry has been launched into the shooting, Kashmir's civil administration said.

As news of Shah's death spread in the local area, hundreds of residents took to the streets to hold anti-India protests, shouting "Go India, go back," and "We want freedom."

Masked protesters threw stones and government troops fired tear gas and shotgun pellets to disperse the crowd.

Mobile phone services were cut in the area as the clashes intensified.

At least two young women sustained eye injuries from metal pellets, said a doctor at the city's main hospital.

Officials have barred doctors from speaking to journalists.

The protest came a week after soldiers killed a top rebel commander in the southern Kashmir valley.

Authorities cut mobile internet services then, but they were restored in most areas four days later.

Rebel groups, which enjoy popular support, have fought for decades for the region's independence or its merger with Pakistan.

The fighting has left tens of thousands dead since 1989, mostly civilians. India has more than 500,000 troops in Kashmir.

Updated: May 14, 2020 12:43 AM

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