Slain driver's funeral sparks protests, clashes in Kashmir

Some Kashmiri Muslims believe supporters of Hindu BJP party were behind last week’s attack in which Muslim driver was killed

Slain driver's funeral sparks protests, clashes in Kashmir

World Bulletin / News Desk

Hundreds of people in Kashmir protested against the Indian government this week following the funeral on Monday of a Muslim truck driver who succumbed to injuries sustained last week in an attack -- allegedly by a Hindu mob -- in the Hindu-dominated Jammu region.

In many parts of the volatile Kashmir Valley, there were reports of violent clashes between protestors and security forces, while a general strike called to protest the truck driver’s death continued into Tuesday in Kashmir’s Anantnag district. 

Zahid Ahmed was laid to rest on Monday amid tight security in his native village in South Kashmir, where people shouted anti-India slogans and waved Pakistani flags, according to local sources.

A number of prominent separatist leaders, meanwhile, were placed under house arrest by the authorities, following calls for a general strike. 

Nevertheless, calls for a strike were answered in Kashmir and in several Muslim-majority parts of the Jammu region.

The disturbances prompted the Indian police to impose a curfew in the southern parts of Kashmir -- from which the slain driver hailed -- and in regional capital Srinagar.

Many protesters, however, defied the curfew on Monday, taking to the streets and clashing with Indian police, who used teargas and pepper gas shells to disperse them.

Last week, the Kashmir Valley saw a number of violent protests after 16-year-old Zahid died in a New Delhi hospital from wounds sustained in last week’s attack, which occurred in the city of Udhampur in Indian- administered Jammu and Kashmir.  

Another truck driver, Showkat Ahmed, was also injured in last week’s attack, for which a Hindu mob was allegedly responsible. 

On Monday, protesters converged on the streets of Anantnag, where they and blocked the Jammu-Srinagar highway following news of Zahid’s death.

Some shouted anti-India slogans and clashed with security forces, according to witnesses. 

In a statement, Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, condemned last week’s attack, which he described as “a dastardly act.”

The latest incidents have not only led to new frictions between the two regions -- Hindu-dominated Jammu and Muslim-majority Kashmir -- but have also put the state’s coalition government in a tight spot.

The Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP), an Indian Hindu political party that runs the federal government, is currently in a fragile coalition with a Kashmir-based party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), which has a Muslim support base.

Many Muslims in Kashmir believe supporters of the BJP and its sister parties were behind last week’s attack in which the driver was killed.

Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in part and claimed by both in full. The two countries have fought three wars -- in 1948, 1965 and 1971 -- since they were separated in 1947.

Two of these conflicts were fought over Kashmir, a portion of which is also held by China.

Since 1989, Kashmiri resistance groups in Indian-held Kashmir have fought against Indian rule. They demand independence or unification with neighboring Pakistan.

Since then, more than 70,000 Kashmiris are estimated to have been killed in the violence, most of them at the hands of Indian forces.

Currently, India maintains over half a million troops in Indian-held Kashmir. 

Last Mod: 21 Ekim 2015, 09:08
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