Kashmir ‘Mob Drowns Policeman’

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There are fears of more violence in Indian-administered Kashmir, after a policeman drowned when his car was pushed into a river, police say.

However some accounts have said the car was not pushed into the river, but fell in after the driver lost control in an attempt to avoid stone pelting mobs.

At least 23 people have died and many more injured in clashes over the death of a popular separatist rebel.

Burhan Wani, 22, died in a gunfight with the Indian army on Friday.

The violence that has erupted after his death is the worst seen for years in the restive region, claimed in its entirety by both India and Pakistan.

Kashmir has been a flashpoint for more than 60 years, sparking wars between the countries.

Within the disputed Muslim-majority territory, some militant groups have taken up arms to fight for independence or a merger with Pakistan.

The last bout of serious violence in the region was in the summer of 2010, when over 100 people died in anti-India protests, which broke out after police shot dead a teenager.

Curfew under strain

In the latest incident on Sunday, the culmination of a weekend of violence, a crowd in the Jhelum area pelted a police officer’s car with stones and pushed it into a river where he drowned while inside the vehicle, police said.

However some accounts say that the car fell in after the driver tried to avoid a stone-pelting mob.

The policeman, identified as Feroz Ahmad, is among more than 20,000 “irregulars” who are used to provide additional manpower during operations in Kashmir.

Our correspondent says tensions remain high on Monday, with crowds attempting to violate curfew orders

The situation has also led to the suspension of a popular Hindu religious pilgrimage to the Amarnath temple shrine, which has stranded some 15,000 devotees in the neighbouring state of Jammu, Indian media reported.

Over 2,000 pilgrims who were on the way back from the temple have been airlifted out of Kashmir, police officials told the BBC.

What sparked the violence?

The violence was sparked by the death of Wani, a commander of the region’s largest rebel group, Hizbul Mujahideen.

Thousands attended his funeral which was held in his hometown of Tral, about 40km (25 miles) south of Srinagar, on Saturday.

Police stations and military installations were attacked in violent clashes after the funeral, with several buildings burned down, police added.

The state government has said that it will also investigate reports of excessive police violence towards unarmed protesters.

What is the fear now?

Rights groups have described the current situation as a state of emergency. Hospitals remain filled with wounded protesters and phone and internet services are suspended.

The BBC’s South Asia correspondent, Justin Rowlatt, says this is the worst violence in the region for some years and the fear is that if it is not brought under control soon, many more people could be killed and injured.

The level of separatist insurgency violence in the region has ebbed and flowed since 1989, but it has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people, mainly civilians.

Source: BBC

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