At least two people have been killed in grenade attacks in India-administered Kashmir and two armed rebels shot dead by Indian forces, officials said, in one of the region’s most violent days since New Delhi imposed a security clampdown more than three months ago.
India‘s Hindu nationalist government shut down internet and phone lines and flooded the country’s only Muslim-majority region with security forces to back its August 5 move to strip Kashmir of its autonomous status and impose tighter central control.
On October 31, the Narendra Modi-led government turned the Jammu and Kashmir state into two federally-controlled territories, arguing that special provisions for the region hindered its development and fuelled a separatist movement.
Amid heightened tensions in the disputed Himalayan region, suspected rebels staged two grenade attacks on Tuesday, a police official told the AFP news agency on condition of anonymity.
Two people – including a government official and a member of a village council – were killed and four wounded in one of the blasts in Badasgam village in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district where they were holding a meeting to address public grievances, police said.
“The Back to Village programme had got over when a grenade was hurled by militants,” Altaf Khan, a police officer in Anantnag, told the Reuters news agency.
The second grenade was lobbed into a store next to an entrance to the University of Kashmir in Srinagar’s Saderbal area, injuring four people, according to a police official who declined to be named.
The incident occurred shortly after security forces killed two suspected armed rebels late on Monday and early on Tuesday in southern Kashmir’s Pulwama district.
“We had received reports that terrorists were threatening the local population and we launched an operation,” Major General Anindya Sengupta told reporters on Tuesday.
The Indian government had insisted that “normalcy” had returned to Kashmir, but locals are still cut off from the internet and dozens of political leaders remain in detention.
Food shops open only for a few hours each day and no public buses and taxis have operated since the clampdown. Protests are held regularly.
India and Pakistan have disputed the mountainous region since they became independent and split in 1947.
India accuses Pakistan of arming and training rebels who have been fighting for Kashmir’s independence or its merger with Pakistan since 1989.
Islamabad rejects India’s charge and says it provides only moral and diplomatic support.
About 70,000 people have been killed in the armed uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown.