Of Kashmir’s “staged” killings and south Asian peace process
When the prime ministers of India and Pakistan held talks on April 29 and signalled an unexpected thaw in their frigid relations, troops in Indian Kashmir reportedly lured three civilians to work as porters.
The next day, security forces allegedly gunned down three on the Line of Control (LoC) and passed them off as infiltrating militants from the Pakistan side.
Last week, police exhumed the bodies after three families in north Kashmir’s Baramulla area said the slain men were innocent relatives who had gone missing days before the “border clash”.
After identification the three bodies were found to be those of the missing men, triggering massive anti-India demonstrations across the Valley.
Government forces in the disputed region have been accused in the past of murdering innocent civilians in staged gun battles and passing them off as separatist militants to earn rewards and promotions.
But the fresh “staged’ killings have come at a sensitive time in Kashmir where rebel violence is waning and the region was expecting a push to stalled peace talks between New Delhi and the region’s separatists.
Though the Indian army and the state government have launched a probe into the ‘fake gun battle” and Defence Minister A.K. Antony has assured there would be no cover-up to shield the guilty, the damage has been done.
Kashmir has again erupted in anger over the killings adding more fuel to anti-India sentiment in the region torn by two decades of bloody revolt.
Angered over killings, senior separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has asked Pakistan to take up the issue of “fake encounters” with India.
Farooq told a news conference that dialogue and “genocide” of Kashmiri people cannot go together.
“New Delhi talks of dialogue but its troops are committing genocide of Kashmiri people. This is the strategy of occupational Indian troops to counter mounting international pressure for resolving the long-pending Kashmir dispute,” Farooq added.
Why Indian troops “staged” a gun battle or “fake rebel incursion” on Kashmir border when the disputed Himalayan region is expecting peace between New Delhi and Islamabad and an end to bloodshed?