SRINAGAR: Soldiers raided a village in restive Indian-administered Kashmir overnight in an attempt to quash ongoing protests, leaving one civilian dead and dozens injured, police and witnesses said on Thursday.
Villagers said soldiers from a nearby Indian army camp ransacked homes in Khrew village and beat residents with bamboo sticks, leading to the death of a teacher.
“They beat up men, women and children and took away many young men with them. We discovered the battered body of Shabir Mangoo on a village street in the morning,” said one villager who asked not to be named, fearing reprisals.
Army spokesman Colonel N N Joshi confirmed the raid on the village 25 kilometres south-east of the main city of Srinagar, saying “the incident is being investigated.”
Indian-administered Kashmir has been in the grip of almost daily anti-India protests and rolling curfews sparked by the killing on July 8 of a popular separatist leader, Burhan Wani, in a gunfight with government forces.
“One person was also found dead after the raid,” a police officer told AFP on condition of anonymity, adding that around 28 villagers were taken away by the soldiers.
The army raid – the third in recent days – comes after five weeks of unrest that have left more than 60 people dead. India has clamped down hard on protests, with the army accused of using brutal tactics to suppress demonstrators.
“First the electricity went off and soldiers soon started attacking our home, beating up all of us, including my 10-year-old niece,” villager Ghulam Hassan told AFP from his hospital bed in Srinagar.
Dr Nazir Chaudhary, medical superintendent at the main SMHS hospital in Srinagar told AFP 24 injured villagers had been admitted for treatment.
A daytime curfew in place across the territory was extended to night-time Wednesday, with police forcing shops to close and soldiers setting up additional roadblocks and checkpoints to restrict residents’ movement.
Meanwhile, the Indian government has decided to extend the deployment of forces sent to the disputed Himalayan region for smooth conduct of the Amarnath yatra that comes to an end on Thursday, Indian media reported.
An additional 180 companies of India’s Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), Sashastra Seema Bal (Armed Border Force or SSB) and other forces – amounting to around 18,000 personnel – will stay on in the valley, the Times of India quoted a senior Indian home ministry official as saying.