World Bulletin / News Desk
Muzzaffar Ahmad alias Muz Moulvi was said to be one of the top militant commanders in the region. He was killed on Thursday night -- the first such killing of a pro-Kashmir independence fighter in 2017. He was buried in Sopore in north Kashmir on Friday.
The previous year saw the highest number of militants getting killed by Indian forces in the last six years; 2016 also saw the highest casualty figures for Indian armed forces in the region since 2008.
A total of 90 Indian armed forces personnel were killed in Indian-held Kashmir in 2008, the subsequent years saw a decline with only 17 soldiers getting killed in 2012, 61 in 2013, 51 in 2014 and 41 in 2015. However, in 2016, a total of 87 Indian security forces personnel were killed.
A total of 165 militants were also killed in 2016.
Last year, a five-month long uprising in the region was triggered by the killing of a 21-year-old militant, Burhan Wani, by Indian forces in July last year.
Wani’s killing had brought hundreds of thousands of people to the streets seeking independence from Indian rule. Indian government responded to the protests with violence, killing at least a 100 unarmed civilian protesters and according to figures from the health department, over 12,000 people were wounded, with several hundreds losing their eye sights because of Indian force’s use of pellet guns. At least 13,000 civilian protesters, including human right activists, were also arrested.
The uprising brought the armed struggle, which had for years slid back to the peripheries, back to the center of Kashmir’s struggle against Indian rule.
Indian Army Chief Gen. Bipin Rawat, who is currently on a three-day visit to the disputed region, expressed dismay about the Kashmiri youth picking up guns again to fight Indian rule.
Rawat blamed the pro-independence militancy on “social media…what has been happening in Middle East and propaganda by unwarranted Islamic organizations who are trying to interpret Islam in a very incorrect manner.”
Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full.
The two countries have fought three wars – in 1948, 1965 and 1971 – since they were partitioned in 1947, two of which were fought over Kashmir.
Since 1989, Kashmiri resistance groups in Indian-held Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.
More than 70,000 people have reportedly been killed in the conflict so far, most of them by the Indian Armed forces. India maintains more than half a million troops in the disputed region.