Student-led protests on Monday in the Indian-controlled region of Kashmir escalated into violence that has left over 100 injured as students clash with Indian police and paramilitary forces.
The protests began as a result of a police raid on a Kashmiri college this past weekend. There, in the southern Kashmiri town of Pulwama, over 50 students were injured as they fought with security forces in the streets. Police had reportedly established a security checkpoint close to the college, angering students who then gathered in the streets. Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at the crowd.
The protests on Monday in the city of Srinagar were organized by a banned student union. Speaking to al Jazeera, one student said: “We were peacefully protesting; our brothers were being thrashed inside (the college), we came for their support as we couldn’t tolerate this.”
Tensions have been rising throughout the disputed region following an election held on April 9th, where eight people were reportedly killed by Indian security forces following protests across Kashmir. The election reported a dismal turnout of 6.5% of registered voters, the lowest ever recorded since Kashmir was turned over to India and Pakistan from the British in 1947.
In the run-up to the election, thousands of additional Indian security forces personnel were deployed into Kashmir to augment the already existing 500,000 Indian soldiers, and internet services were shut down across Kashmir for three days in an attempt to quell protests.
Last Friday, Indian troops caused a social media spectacle and further enraged protestors after images emerged showing a Kashmiri man tied to the front of an Indian army jeep, apparently for use as a human shield against rocks being thrown at Indian soldiers.
— Omar Abdullah (@abdullah_omar) April 14, 2017
Elsewhere in Kashmir on Saturday, a 17-year-old was struck in the head with a rubber bullet, killing him. Local residents say other young men had been throwing rocks at a passing Indian convoy when the police fired back, striking the boy in the head.
Kashmir has been the site of nearly continuous conflict since 1947. A majority of the population in Kashmir wishes to either become independent or join Pakistan. Rebels and separatists have fought Indian troops in the area for decades, and India and Pakistan have fought multiple major wars and smaller conflicts, most of which were over issues related to Kashmir.
Image courtesy of the BBC