Thu, Sep 05, 2019 - Page 6 News List

First official casualty in Kashmir

CONFLICTING STORIES:The government claims that the man was killed by a stone thrown by protesters on Aug. 6, while protesters think it was a tear gas shell

Reuters, SRINAGAR, India

An 18-year-old man has died in Indian Kashmir nearly a month after he was injured during a protest, the first official death since India flooded Kashmir with troops, prompting tighter security in parts of Srinagar fearing a reaction.

Asrar Ahmed Khan, a resident of Srinagar’s Ilahibagh area, died on Tuesday night, succumbing to wounds he sustained on Aug. 6, three officials said.

“He was reportedly injured with a blunt object in a law-and-order situation where a violent crowd was indulging in stone pelting,” Jammu and Kashmir Director-General of Police Dilbag Singh said.

Khan had been admitted to Srinagar’s Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences with wounds to his head, and was undergoing treatment in an intensive care ward, a government official said, declining to be named.

Singh said there were allegations from protesters that Khan had been hit by a tear gas shell, although authorities suspect it might have been a stone thrown by protesters.

“The matter [is] under investigation,” Singh said.

Two deaths were reported earlier by media, but they have been challenged by authorities.

The Indian government flooded the Kashmir valley with troops, introduced movement restrictions and cut off most communication as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the withdrawal of special rights for the Himalayan region on Aug. 5.

There have been sporadic protests against the withdrawal of special status, which security forces have used pellets and tear gas to quell.

Parts of Srinagar’s old quarter, which has often been a center for protests, were locked down yesterday, a government official and a witness said.

Concertina wire barriers have been strung across roads, crewed by armed paramilitary in full riot gear, and movement of people had been tightened, the witness said.

“These are normal day restrictions in that area and some extra precautions,” Singh said.

A communication blackout, including severing of mobile phone and Internet connections, has now entered its 31st day. Hundreds of political leaders and workers, including three former chief ministers, have also been detained.

By stripping Kashmir of its special status, New Delhi blocked its right to frame its own laws and allowed non-residents to buy property.

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