Foreign Ministry condemns arrest of 1,400 Kashmiris in recent days
ISLAMABAD (AA) – Pakistan on Friday accused Indian forces of killing 10 Kashmiris over the past week and condemned the arrest of 1,400 Kashmiris in recent days.
During a weekly press briefing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Asim Iftikhar Ahmad claimed that Indian forces did not even return the remains of the victims to their families.
“During the last week alone, 10 innocent Kashmiris have been martyred in fake encounters and so-called ‘cordon-and-search operations’,” Ahmad said, adding a Kashmiri civilian was taken into custody and then brutally murdered in a fake encounter in Bandipora.
He accused New Delhi of arresting 1,400 Kashmiris on false charges and said Pakistan strongly condemned the arrests and crackdown in Kashmir.
Unrest has peaked in Kashmir over recent days, particularly with a spike in attacks on religious minorities, including Sikhs and Hindus.
At least seven civilians have been killed in targeted attacks over the past two weeks, including two teachers and a pharmacist from the Sikh and Hindu communities.
The killings have been claimed by a group that calls itself The Resistance Front, which Indian police officials believe is an offshoot of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).
On Monday, militants shot dead five soldiers in a gunfight during a search operation in villages near the area of Surankote in Poonch.
In a statement, Kashmiri police said they killed at least eight militants in clashes during three days from Oct. 11 to 13, who were linked to proscribed terror outfit LeT.
However, Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry rejected the Kashmiri police statement and said Indian forces are committing human rights violations in the disputed territory.
“Pakistan continues to urge the international community to hold India accountable for its egregious human rights violations in IIOJK [Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir], and its persecution of minorities elsewhere,” Ahmad said.
Official records show 113 militants have been killed in the disputed Himalayan region this year, with the highest fatalities recorded in the month of July.
According to a police statement issued last week, 28 civilians have been killed in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir this year, out of which 21 were Muslims, five were from the local Hindu and Sikh communities, and two were “non-local Hindu laborers”.
Varying reports suggest Indian police and military have picked up somewhere between 500 to 900 people in recent days as part of efforts to track down the perpetrators behind the spate of killings.
Police officials have refused to divulge the exact number but maintained that “only people with possible links to militants or those involved in subversive activities” are being detained.
Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.
Since they were partitioned in 1947, India and Pakistan have fought three wars – in 1948, 1965, and 1971 – two of them over Kashmir.
Indian and Pakistani troops have also fought intermittently in the northern Siachen region since 1984. A cease-fire took effect in 2003.
Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against the Indian rule for independence or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.
According to several human rights organizations, thousands have reportedly been killed in the conflict since 1989.