In­dian armed forces kill top Kash­mir com­man­der

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

In­dian forces killed a top mil­i­tant com­man­der in Kash­mir yes­ter­day, trig­ger­ing clashes in which one protester was killed and dozens in­jured. Abu Du­jana, a se­nior fighter from the Pak­istan-based mil­i­tant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, was killed dur­ing a raid near Sri­na­gar in the dis­puted In­dian-held ter­ri­tory of Kash­mir.

In­dian troops and po­lice spe­cial coun­terin­sur­gency forces sur­rounded the vil­lage of Harkipora after a tip off that the mil­i­tant and an aide were hid­ing in a house. A fierce gun­fight fol­lowed, po­lice sources said. The 26-year-old Du­jana, who was renowned for evad­ing cap­ture, was con­sid­ered an “A++” tar­get by se­cu­rity forces, who hailed his death a “ma­jor achieve­ment”.

A house which the mil­i­tants used was set ablaze by sol­diers and an­other was blown up with heavy ex­plo­sives, wit­nesses said. A po­lice of­fi­cer, speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymity, said Du­jana’s aide was a teenaged lo­cal rebel and that bodies of the two mil­i­tants were charred “nearly be­yond recog­ni­tion”. As news of Du­jana’s killing spread, thou­sands of Kash­mir res­i­dents came out onto the streets and clashed with gov­ern­ment forces, throw­ing stones at them.

Troops re­tal­i­ated by fir­ing tear gas, pel­let guns and bul­lets, killing a young man and in­jur­ing at least 70 oth­ers, wit­nesses and a po­lice of­fi­cer said. A woman nurse was wounded by a bul­let in­side a hos­pi­tal in Pul­wama town, south of Sri­na­gar, when gov­ern­ment forces fired at pro­test­ers who had as­sem­bled out­side, a hos­pi­tal source said. Hun­dreds of stu­dents and res­i­dents clashed with po­lice in Lal Chowk, the main com­mer­cial cen­tre of Sri­na­gar, where shop­keep­ers downed shut­ters and pan­icked par­ents rushed to col­lect their chil­dren from schools. The gov­ern­ment or­dered all schools, col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties closed for the day.

Hunted for years

Se­cu­rity of­fi­cials say Du­jana, who crossed from Pak­istan-ad­min­is­tered Kash­mir in 2010, was the long­est sur­viv­ing fighter in the In­dian-con­trolled ter­ri­tory and used his pop­u­lar­ity to es­cape mil­i­tary traps and mount at­tacks on se­cu­rity forces.

He had a rep­u­ta­tion for being “a master of dis­guise” who es­caped at least five pre­vi­ous mil­i­tary cor­dons. “He (Du­jana) kept weapons and am­mu­ni­tion stashed away in dif­fer­ent ar­eas and moved like a civil­ian dis­guised as a stu­dent and some­times as a labourer,” a res­i­dent of south Kash­mir, who de­clined to be named, told AFP.

The mil­i­tant also ap­peared at the funer­als of slain col­leagues at least twice, but gave po­lice and troops the slip. “He knew the ter­ri­tory like the back of his hand. He was very, very mo­bile,” a po­lice of­fi­cer said on con­di­tion of anonymity. His death is one of the big­gest blows to Kash­miri sep­a­ratists since the death of an­other com­man­der, Burhan Wani, in July last year.

Wani’s killing sparked months of wide­spread protests against In­dian rule and left nearly 100 civil­ians dead and thou­sands in­jured. Since then, stone-throw­ing civil­ians, some­times en­tire com­mu­ni­ties, have in­creas­ingly gone out onto the streets to sup­port rebels trapped by mil­i­tary cor­dons in a bid to help them es­cape. Kash­mir has been di­vided be­tween In­dia and Pak­istan since the end of Bri­tish colo­nial rule in 1947. Both claim the Himalayan ter­ri­tory in full. Mil­i­tant groups, in­clud­ing LeT, have for decades fought roughly 500,000 In­dian sol­diers de­ployed in the ter­ri­tory, de­mand­ing in­de­pen­dence or a merger with Pak­istan. Tens of thou­sands, mostly civil­ians, have died in the fight­ing. — AFP

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