Srinagar, India, Oct 5 (EFE).- At least four insurgents and one civilian were killed Wednesday in India-administered Kashmir while Indian Home Minister Amit Shah was in the region disputed by India and Pakistan on a three-day visit.
The four insurgents were killed in two separate operations by security forces in the southern district of Shopian, while the civilian died in an “accidental” shooting in Pulwama, another southern district.
“Two anti-terrorist operations were conducted in Dracho and Muloo villages, three terrorists were killed in Dracho and one in Muloo,” a senior police commander in Shopian told Efe on condition of anonymity, adding that “the insurgents killed had been involved in different targeted killings” in the past.
A civilian also died in Pulwama, a district police official told Efe, after a security officer’s rifle “accidentally” discharged.
According to police records seen by Efe, 156 militants have died in 99 operations in disputed Kashmir so far this year, 38 of whom have been identified as Pakistani nationals.
During that period, 22 civilians have been killed in various violent incidents, while security forces have lost 20 soldiers in attacks and ambushes.
Wednesday’s incidents coincide with the Home Minister’s visit to the restive northern region of the country, where he chaired a high-level security meeting.
Authorities in India-administered Kashmir have strengthened security deployment in several areas, and on Tuesday suspended mobile phone services and internet in parts of the region ahead of the visit.
This is Shah’s first trip to the region since the Indian government decided in 2019 to revoke its semi-autonomous status, imposing unprecedented restrictions and detaining thousands of people.
Since then, India-administered Kashmir has been run by a governor appointed by New Delhi without elections, although Shah said the first regional polls since 2014 would be held soon.
“The announcement regarding elections in Jammu and Kashmir will be made once the final voters’ list and other preparations are completed,” Shah said.
Addressing a massive rally in Baramula, the minister also lauded the increased security that the region had witnessed in recent years, which he said was once a “hotbed of terrorists” that had now transformed into a “tourist hotspot.”
He said that 42,000 people have lost their lives in Kashmir over the last three decades, although several human rights organizations place that figure at 72,000 since the beginning of the bloody insurgency in 1989.
Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority region, has been the cause of hostilities between India and Pakistan since 1947, when it was divided between the two countries, which have fought several wars over it.
Since 1989, the region has witnessed an armed separatist insurgency against New Delhi’s rule, with thousands of people being killed in violence. India accuses Pakistan of backing the insurgency, although Islamabad has denied this. EFE