Conflicts & War

Son of separatist leader gunned down by security forces in Indian Kashmir

Srinagar, India May 19 (efe-epa).- Two insurgents, including the son of a prominent separatist leader, were killed in a gunfight with security forces in India-administered Kashmir, the police said on Tuesday

Two police officers were also wounded in the encounter that began Monday night in a densely populated area of old Srinagar, the regional capital.

“Two militants have been killed in the operation at Nawakadal, Srinagar. Both belong to the Hizbul Mujahideen (militant group). Two weapons and ammunition recovered,” the police said in a statement.

It added that the militants started firing after the police cordoned off the area and surrounded their hideout. “We had specific information about the presence of militants in the area.”

Although the police did not officially identify the slain militants, an officer told EFE on the condition of anonymity that one of them was Junaid Sehrai, the son of Ashraf Sehrai, a senior leader of the separatist alliance Hurriyat Conference.

Ashraf is a close aid of ailing Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who has been kept under house arrest for nearly a decade.

Junaid, a business management graduate from Kashmir University, had reportedly joined the HM – the largest militant separatist organization active in the disputed region – in March 2018.

He was considered “an important active militant” by the Indian security establishment after the top commander of the group, Riyaz Naikoo, was gunned down in another gunfight on May 6. Naikoo’s death was considered an important breakthrough against militancy in the region.

Authorities had on Monday snapped the mobile phone and internet services in the capital – apart from the state run telecom operator BSNL – soon after the beginning of the first gunfight in the city in around two years.

However protests broke out in different parts of the city after the encounter, and the police resorted to firing teargas shells to disperse stone-pelting protesters.

“At least four residential houses have been severely damaged in the gunfight,” Fayaz, a local resident, told EFE.

Authorities in the Indian Kashmir have stopped handing over the dead bodies of militants to their families for the last two months in an attempt to prevent large gatherings amid the coronavirus lockdown, as such funerals often see pro-separatism protests and clashes between the mourners and security forces.

Indian forces have intensified operations against the insurgents in Indian Kashmir amid the COVID-19 lockdown and killed more than 30 militants since the restrictions began on Mar. 25.

The Himalayan region of Kashmir has been a disputed territory since 1947 when India and Pakistan won their freedom from British rule.

The two countries, which have fought three wars, including two over Kashmir, claim the divided territory in its entirety but rule its parts.

India-administered Kashmir has witnessed an armed rebellion against New Delhi’s rule since 1989. Over 70,000 people have been killed in three decades of the bloody conflict, according to activists. EFE-EPA

sa-alro/ia

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