SRINAGAR, India (AP) – Attackers fatally shot a Kashmiri Hindu man on Saturday amid violence police blamed on militants fighting Indian rule in the disputed region.
According to police, militants fired on Puran Krishan Bhat, who is from the minority community of Kashmiri Hindus, at his home in the southern Shopian district. He was taken to a hospital where he died, the police said in a statement.
Police and soldiers cordoned off the area and searched for the attackers.
In August, a local Hindu man was killed and his brother injured in Shopian in a shooting that police also blamed on insurgents.
Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan and is claimed by both in its entirety.
Rebels in Indian-controlled Kashmir have been fighting New Delhi’s rule since 1989. Most Muslim Kashmiris support the rebels’ goal of unifying the area, either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country.
India insists militancy in Kashmir is Pakistan-sponsored terrorism. Pakistan denies the charge and most Kashmiris consider it a legitimate freedom struggle. Tens of thousands of civilians, rebels and government troops have been killed in the conflict.
Kashmir has witnessed a spate of targeted killings since October last year. Several Hindus, including guest workers from Indian states, have been killed. Police say the killings — including those of Muslim village councillors, police officers and civilians — were committed by anti-Indian rebels.
The spate of killings comes as Indian forces have continued their counterinsurgency operations across the region amid a curtailment of dissent and press freedom, which critics have compared to militaristic policies.
Kashmir’s Hindu minority, known locally as Pandits, have long been concerned about their place in the region. Most of the estimated 200,000 fled Kashmir in the 1990s, when an armed uprising against Indian rule began. About 4,000 returned after 2010 as part of a government resettlement plan that provided them with jobs and housing.
JOIN THE CALL