In­dian Kash­mir shuts down in protest over re­cent as­sas­si­na­tions


Stores, busi­nesses and schools slammed shut across In­di­an­con­trolled Kash­mir on Wed­nes­day af­ter sep­a­ratists called a strike to protest a se­ries of as­sas­si­na­tion­style killings over the past week.

Se­cu­rity forces pa­trolled the streets of In­dian Kash­mir’s main city, Sri­na­gar, and buses and taxis stayed off the roads. Many gov­ern­ment em­ploy­ees also stayed home.

Author­i­ties say their ini­tial in­ves­ti­ga­tions in­di­cated that rebels killed the four vic­tims, each with a close-range shot to the back of the head. But sep­a­ratists chal­leng­ing In­dia’s sovereignty say se­cret gov­ern­ment agen­cies were be­hind the killings. The mur­ders oc­curred in the town of So­pore.

Kash­mir has a long history of bru­tal­ity on both sides. Sep­a­ratists say the re­cent mur­ders echo the style of the “Ikhwa­nis,” the gov­ern­ment-spon­sored Kash­miri mili­tias that killed hun­dreds of rebels and ac­tivists in the 1990s.

The killings be­gan last week when gun­men shot and killed a well-known sep­a­ratist ac­tivist in So­pore. That was fol­lowed by the deaths of two for­mer rebels and a sep­a­ratist sym­pa­thizer.

Sep­a­ratists have called Fri­day rally in So­pore.

Anti-In­dia feel­ings run deep in Kash­mir, the coun­try’s only ma­jor­ity-Mus­lim state, where nearly a dozen rebel groups have been fight­ing In­dian rule since 1989. About 68,000 peo­ple have been killed in the con­flict. The rebel groups have largely been sup­pressed by In­dia in re­cent years, and re­sis­tance is now prin­ci­pally through street protests.

Kash­mir is di­vided be­tween In­dia and Pak­istan but claimed by both in its en­tirety. Rebels want the re­gion to merge with Pak­istan or to be­come in­de­pen­dent.

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Kash­miri chil­dren play at a closed mar­ket dur­ing a strike in Sri­na­gar, In­dian con­trolled Kash­mir, Wed­nes­day, June 17.

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