SRINAGAR: At least two people were killed in grenade attacks in Kashmir yesterday and two militants shot dead by Indian forces, officials said, in one of the region’s most violent days since New Delhi imposed a security clampdown. The Indian government shut down internet and phone lines and flooded the Muslim-majority region with security forces to back its August 5 move to strip Kashmir of its autonomous status and impose tighter central control.
Amid heightened tensions, suspected militants staged two grenade attacks yesterday, a top police official, speaking on condition of anonymity said. One was thrown at a group of village councilors and government officials waiting outside an administration building in the village of Hakura, south of the main city of Srinagar. The police official said two people were killed and at least four injured. The second grenade was lobbed into a store next to an entrance to the University of Kashmir in Srinagar, injuring three people, the official added.
The attacks were the worst on one day since the clampdown-which has been gradually eased by India-started. A grenade attack in early November killed one person. The government has insisted that “normalcy” is returning to Kashmir, but locals are still cut off from the internet and dozens of political leaders remain in detention. Food shops are only open for a few hours each day and no public buses and taxis have operated since the clampdown. Protests are held regularly.
India has accused neighboring Pakistan, which also claims Kashmir, of sending fighters across their unofficial border and security forces have stepped up operations against militants. A military spokesman said two rebels were killed in a siege in the Pulwama district on Monday and yesterday. Media reports said both were Kashmiris. Indian and Pakistan have disputed the mountainous region since they became independent and split in 1947.
Kashmir has been divided between them since then and the rivals have fought two of their three wars over the Himalayan region. An insurgency that erupted in Indian Kashmir in 1989 has claimed tens of thousands of mainly civilian lives. Kashmir’s special status had previously prevented people from outside the region from buying land or getting government jobs there. – AFP