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INDIAN FORCES GUN DOWN CIVILIAN IN OCCUPIED KASHMIR

Screenshot 2021-10-25 123627
SRINAGAR: Indian security personnel stand guard at a market on Sunday. — AFP

 Indian forces shot dead a civilian in occupied Kashmir on Sunday, residents said, as authorities tightened security across the disputed territory for a visit by an Indian minister.

The victim, a milk seller in the southern Kashmir Valley, is the 12th civilian killed by security forces or local fighters this month as attacks increase in the Himalayan region.

India has about 500,000 troops and paramilitaries in occupied Kashmir seeking to contain a resistance movement striving for independence or the disputed region’s merger with Pakistan.

Police said the man was hit in “crossfire” during “militant action” near a police paramilitary camp in the village of Zainapora and that the incident was being investigated.

Amit Shah, India’s home minister and effective deputy to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has been in occupied Kashmir since Saturday, adding to security concerns.

It is Shah’s first trip to the disputed region since New Delhi cancelled Kashmir’s semi-autonomy in August 2019 and placed it under direct rule.

His visit follows a series of targeted killings in the disputed region.

Sandbag bunkers have been erected across Srinagar and snipers positioned on rooftops around the building where Shah is staying.

Police have in recent days impounded hundreds of motorbikes in the city and intensified checks on pedestrians including women and children. Motorbikes have been used for drive-by killings. India’s chief of defence staff General Bipin Rawat said security monitoring was being intensified to thwart possible attacks.

Anti-India sentiment runs deep in the occupied region. Kashmiri groups launched an armed campaign against Indian forces in 1989 and the fighting has left tens of thousands dead, mainly civilians.