Villagers in Indian-controlled Kashmir said on Thursday that a young college teacher was killed in army custody.
The killing of Shabir Ahmad Monga, who worked as contractual lecturer at a government college, was reported from village Shaarsali Khrew in Pulwama district, about 28 km south of Srinagar city.
“Indian army troopers along with police on Wednesday night raided our village and took over two dozen men in custody,” a resident said on condition of anonymity. “The army personnel ruthlessly roughed up all of them, due to which 30-year-old Shabir Ahmad Monga was killed.”
Monga’s body was handed over to the family Thursday morning, triggering protests in the area.
Reports said Monga was taken to nearest Pampore town hospital but doctors there declared him dead.
“He (Monga) had already died when brought to hospital,” a health official posted at Pampore hospital told Xinhua. “His body had visible external injuries.”
A police official at Pampore said Monga was killed during the raid to counter anti-India protests in the village.
A local news gathering agency quoting doctors at Srinagar’s SMHS said they admitted 24 civilians in injured condition from Khrew, who were ruthlessly beaten. The injured include Monga’s brother.
Indian army has regretted the killing of Monga and said it would investigate the circumstances that led to his death.
“It is regrettable,” Lt. Gen. Satish Dua, the General Officer Commanding (GoC) of Indian military’s Srinagar-based 15 Corps, told reporters. “It was a joint patrol which had gone there. Thereafter one death has taken place. We are looking into it and have due process of investigation.”
Large-scale protests against New Delhi’s rule are going on in the Muslim majority areas of the restive region since July 8. The protests broke out following the killing of a top militant commander of Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) Burhan Muzaffar Wani.
Despite prolonged curfew and restrictions to clamp down on protesters, clashes and protests seem to be intensifying on Thursday. The death toll of civilians in the standoff has gone up to 62, besides injuries to thousands of civilians and hundreds of government forces personnel.
Anti-India sentiment runs deep in the psyche of majority of Kashmiris. Irate residents defying curfew and restrictions took to roads at several places and clashed with police. The youth throw stones and brickbats on contingents of police and paramilitary, who respond by firing tear smoke shells, pellets and bullets, which often proves fatal.
Residents alleged the government forces break window panes and resort to ransacking of houses to stop protests. Authorities however said their forces were only responding to chase stone-throwing youth and trying to maintain law and order.
The shutdown and restrictions has affected normal life in the region, with people complaining dearth of essentials and eatables. A shortage of medicines has been reported in the region.
A separatist movement and guerrilla war challenging New Delhi’s rule is going on in Indian-controlled Kashmir since 1989.
In 2010, a similar wave of violence hit the region and claimed over 100 lives during clashes that continued for months.
Kashmir, the Himalayan region divided between India and Pakistan, is claimed by both in full. Since their Independence from Britain, the two countries have fought three wars, two exclusively over Kashmir.
The weeks of turbulence in Indian-controlled Kashmir has added a new confrontation in the already strained relations between the two neighbors.