BJP-led Indian government forces have detained at least 500 people in a horrendous crackdown in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) following a string of suspected attacks and targeted killings in the disputed region.
The crackdown came after assailants fatally shot three Hindus and a Sikh in IIOJK’s main city of Srinagar last week as a sudden rise in violence against civilians occurred that both pro and anti-India Kashmiri politicians widely condemned.
Local police blamed the spate of killings on the people of Kashmir who are fighting against Indian rule in the region for decades.
Officials said that they had detained over 500 people across the Kashmir Valley for questioning in the last three days, with the majority of detainees from the main city of Srinagar.
According to police, those detained in the ensuing crackdown include members of religious groups, anti-India activists, and ‘overground workers’ a term Indian authorities use for sympathizers and collaborationists of freedom fighters.
Police officials claimed that The Resistance Front (TRF) group has shot and killed seven people since last week, pushing up the death toll from such attacks this year to 28 people. While 21 of those slain were Muslims, seven of them belonged to Hindu and Sikh minority communities.
Speaking with reporters recently, the region’s top police officer Dilbag Singh described the killings as a “conspiracy to create terror and communal rift.”
On Thursday, TRF in an unverified statement on social media claimed the group was targeting those working for Indian authorities and was not picking targets based on faith.
The Resistance Front (TRF)
The TRF was formed after India stripped IIOJK in 2019 of its semi-autonomous status and scrapped its statehood which was followed by a massive security and communications lockdown for months.
IIOJK has remained on the edge ever since as authorities also put in place a slew of new laws, which critics and many Kashmiris fear is designed to cleanse the population and could change the region’s demographics.
Last week Killings
This last week’s killings have triggered widespread fear among minority communities and many Hindu families are planning to leave the Muslim-majority Kashmir Valley.
Those killed included a prominent Kashmiri Hindu chemist, two schoolteachers of the Hindu and Sikh faiths, and a Hindu street food vendor from India’s eastern state of Bihar.
Freedom fighters in IIOJK have been fighting Delhi’s rule since 1989. The atrocities against Kashmiris have been multiplied since the jingoistic BJP government came to power. Most Muslim Kashmiris support the goal of uniting the territory, either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country.