First 'official' death in IOK protests prompts tighter security in Srinagar

Protestors claim Asrar Ahmed Khan was killed after a tear gas shell hit him

Reuters September 04, 2019
A security personnel stands guard as a man sits in front of a closed shop in Jammu on August 6, 2019. PHOTO: AFP

SRINAGAR, INDIA: An 18-year-old man has died in Indian Occupied Kashmir nearly a month after he was injured during a protest, the first official death since India flooded Kashmir with troops, prompting tighter security in parts of the city of Srinagar fearing a reaction.

Asrar Ahmed Khan, a resident of Srinagar’s Ilahibagh area, died on Tuesday night, succumbing to wounds he suffered on August 6, three officials said.

“He was reportedly injured with a blunt object in a law and order situation where a charged crowd was indulging in stone pelting,” Jammu and Kashmir Director General of Police Dilbag Singh told Reuters.

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Khan had been admitted to Srinagar’s Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences with wounds to his head, and was undergoing treatment in an intensive care ward, a government official said, declining to be named.

Singh said there were claims from protesters that Khan had been hit by a tear gas shell, though authorities suspect it may have been a stone thrown by protesters.

“Matter (is) under investigation,” Singh said.

There have been two deaths reported earlier by media but they been challenged by authorities.

The Indian government flooded the Kashmir valley with troops, introduced movement restrictions and cut off most communication as Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the withdrawal of special rights for the Himalayan region on August 5.

There have been sporadic protests against Modi’s withdrawal of special status, which gave occupied Kashmir more autonomy than any other Indian state, and security forces have used pellets and tear gas to quell these.

Parts of Srinagar’s old quarter, which has often been a center for protests, were locked down on Wednesday, a government official and a Reuters witness said.

Concertina wire barriers have been strung across roads, manned by armed paramilitary in full-riot gear, and movement of people had been tightened, the witness said.

“These are normal day restrictions in that area and some extra precautions on likely law and order scenario,” said Singh.

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A communication blackout, including severing of mobile phones and internet connections, has now entered its 31st day. Hundreds of political leaders and workers, including three former chief ministers, have also been detained.

By stripping IoK of its special status, New Delhi blocked its right to frame its own laws and allowed non-residents to buy property. Delhi said the change would help Kashmir’s development, to the benefit of all, but its move angered many residents of the region and has received widespread condemnation.


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