|UPDATE: 6July2018 ... India is no better than Israel:
Three civilians killed in fresh wave of Kashmir violence
Latest killings come a day before the second anniversary of popular rebel commander Burhan Wani's death.
by Rifat Fareed
7 hours ago
Three civilians killed in fresh wave of Kashmir violence
Thousands attended the funerals of the three civilians [Danish Ismail/Reuters]
Srinagar, Indian-administered Kashmir - Three civilians, including a 15-year-old female student, have been killed after Indian paramilitary forces fired on protesters in Indian-administered Kashmir, officials said.
A top police official told Al Jazeera that the clashes on Saturday erupted after demonstrators threw rocks at an army patrol in Hawoora Mishipora village of the southern Kulgam district.
"In a very unfortunate incident, three civilians were killed during the clashes in Kulgam. We are investigating the incident," the official said on condition of anonymity.
The official said two people who suffered injuries were in "stable" condition.
"We have suspended the mobile internet services in Kashmir to prevent any law and order problems," the official added.
Mushtaq Ahmad, a Hawoora Mishipora resident, told Al Jazeera that the army entered the village at noon "and started beating people".
"They also entered the school and started beating teachers. This triggered protests and the army directly fired at people. They enjoy these killings because there is no one to ask them."
Rajesh Kalia, a Srinagar-based spokesperson of the Indian security forces, said in a statement that "an army patrol came under heavy stone pelting in Kulgam".
"Troops, while exercising extreme restraint, cautioned the stone pelters. In response to this grave provocation and to ensure the security of own troops, controlled firing was resorted to by the army which resulted in an unfortunate loss of human lives," he said.
Dozens have been killed and many others wounded during anti-India protests in Kashmir [File: Reuters]
Rebel commander's death anniversary
Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since 1947. The mountainous region has a long history of conflict and is one of the most heavily militarised places on Earth.
It is home to dozens of armed groups fighting for independence or a merger of the territory with Pakistan.
Thousands of people participated on Saturday in the funerals of the three civilians as fresh protests erupted in the southern districts where hundreds took to the streets and chanted anti-India slogans.
The latest killings took place a day before the second anniversary of the killing by Indian security forces of Burhan Wani, a popular commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen rebel group.
Wani's death on July 8, 2016, triggered widespread demonstrations across the disputed territory for five months, during which more than 100 protesters were shot dead by Indian forces.
Hundreds of civilians were also blinded or suffered eye injuries after paramilitary forces fired lead pellets to control protesting crowds.
In advance of the anniversary of Wani's death, the authorities restricted the movement of people towards his hometown and increased security measures.
Large numbers of security forces have been guarding the streets, while checkpoints have been set up in the volatile parts.
The separatist leaders, who demand independence from Indian rule, called for a shutdown on July 7 and 8 as a mark of protest. Shops, schools and business establishments remained closed on Saturday.
The senior separatist leader, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, said on Twitter that "firing bullets, killing young boys and girls" reflects the "green signal" given to the Indian armed forces "to wipe off Kashmiris with absolute impunity to hold on to their territory".
Since the killing of Wani, who had a huge social media following, there has been an increase in the number of youth taking up arms to fight against Indian rule.
Indian forces have responded with strong force, resulting in intermittent gun battles between troops and rebels. The fighting often triggers civilian protests in which a number of people have been killed.
"There was injustice and oppression when Burhan picked up the gun and same continues now. Not a single day passes without the bloodshed," Wani's mother, Mymoona, told Al Jazeera.
However, since Wani's death, civilians have played an increasingly active role in the rebellion against Indian rule.
SOURCE: AL JAZEERA NEWS
UPDATE: 8July2017 See Photo also!
Kashmir in Crisis-World Kept in the Dark
Walked to bus station & altho jeep drivers were constantly tempting us w/ rides for 200 r. we forged ahead to the bus ticket window - ordinary, state run buses - to Srinagar which cost 187 r. ea and left right on time 8 am but w/ only 7 of us on board! We had most of the bus to ourselves the whole way, no new passengers got on until we were w/in 30 km of Srinagar when we were transferred to another bus which was mostly full and took us into town! Great ride of 10 hours several rest/eat stops and a very good driver.
Almost immediately out of Jammu we began climb into foothills & mtns...up via multitude of switchbacks. We passed 3 major military bases(cement walls & razor wire all around), lots of army vehicles on the road, men stationed everywhere it seemed. Up high we came to Deodar cedars, very mature growth & lots of white pine as well but much evidence of clear cutting/deforestation even tho much of it is 'protected'! Slopes are steep and lots of houses perched on sides w/ terraced plots growing corn & ?? Reached Patnitop, the pass at (...) lots of pointed corn stalk stacks like little houses everywhere. The road was quite good w/ few potholes but only narrow 2 lanes so w/ the heavy traffic the driving was a bit hairy. Not only military convoys but many freight hauling trucks as well and some of the jeeps hauling tourists(?).
Passed the big Baglihar hydro elect dam (900 mk) - this part of India provides much of the electical power for India - and as we got closer to Srinagar mtns became drier, steeper, rockier. We went thru the longest tunnel or our year + journey, 2547 m., the vehicular exhaust became most unpleasant not just for breathing but on the eyes as well. Once out of mtns into flat lands the air is smokey(burning fields/heating w/ wood!?) and hazy, we can barely make out the mtns around us. Rice fields everywhere and stacks of the rice canes piled high in 'hay' stacks again like little houses. Passed many bare fields and many with the remains of the crocus saffron(purple) crop. Lots of wood product industries and stone - slabs - industries along the road as well as fabric/rug making industries.
Chg buses 30 km out and arriving about 6 we walk to Dhum Dhum Hotel amidst men trying to sell us tours/stays in their houseboats. It's off season so only 350 r. for a dbl! In peak season it is about twice this, but then there isn't as much to do/see now either, ha!
Get up started late, very chilly outside even w/ sun out...typical fall weather, yellow poplars turning everywhere. To internet Bon discovers problem w/ bank account ie not possible to get in, access blocked so has to deal w/ bank via emails to staighten out which is difficult given 9+ hours time difference and town shuts down incl internet at 8 pm just when bank is opening back home! So it's always 12-24 hours between correspondences and weekends even more problematic.
Rough day otherwise, walking blvd where houseboats are parked along Dal lake side by side each w/ a name...Aristotle, Plato, Sunset, Elite,New Golden Lily,Queens Lap,New Cherry Ripe,Gemini,Star Ling,Manila,Young Pinafore,Fairyland,Himalaya,New Colombo almost any name you can think of it's here and then they add 'Delux' or 'Super Delux' to make a distinction for the tourists, over 1000 of them. Left from Mughal times when Brittish were not allowed to own land so they built elaborate houseboats on Dal lake. We hired a ...........boat to paddle us around for a couple hours, visited the New California houseboat Mari stayed in 19 yrs ago...very ornate, fancy chandeliers, wood panelling, rugs, TV, even AC(most of the tourist come in May, June, July - hot). We are not interested in staying in a cave(they are very dark inside), so just look...we seem to be the only foreign tourists only Indians are here boating around as well. Great smiling faces taking pictures of us taking pictures of them, ha!
Ate at Shamyana Restaurant, nice space heater - warm! Good food but pricey a bit. Trying to decide on a plan for next week so as to be where there is CNN and power to run TV for the election results...things a bit iffy in this neck of the woods in these regards.
Kashmiris are alike everywhere...very insistant salesmen, like Egyptians but even more so, they will follow along w/ you for blocks repeating the same offer over and over...gets a bit annoying but then we are almost the only game in town!
Bon working to straighten out banking, afternoon we went to Shalimar Bah Garden – the zenith of Mughal horticulture w/ artificial streams(and we thought we invented water features, ha – compared to these ours are a joke, at least in size), pavilions, and huge chinar trees(look like sycamores, actually they are a variety of plane tree), and giant dinnerplate dahlias along w/ many other annuals which bloom into late fall. Also went to Cheshmashahi garden w/ great views of Dal Lake and Nishat Bagh garden w/ even more chinar trees and terraces right down to the lakeshore.
Went to bazaar but being Friday everything was closing by the time we got there(walking). Took a rickshaw to old town where the army seemed to be moving on a trouble spot after we got there. Went to Pir Dastgir Sahib - a sufi shrine w/ papier mache palm pillars and scrollwork & floral designs on ceiling/walls - very colorful/elaborate. Kashmir is famous/well known for its papier mache.
After Mari & Bon accused me of being chicken because I suggested we turn around when a bunch of young guys & even vehicles ran/drove/rushed past us(plus a fellow in a second story window was motioning to me that we should turn around as well). I decided to let them decide what we should do. Mari bravely said"I'll go on if you want to, but if you don't then it's fine w/ me to go back!" Bon(watching a line of army fellows moving up the street in our direction) said, "Well, maybe it's time we head back, I don't care to see any more here anyway" Ha, so I came off as the chicken even tho in the end we turned around...the two women outlasted me by 2 minutes!!! There are a lot of military and police in this town...elections coming up in Nov I believe...but the only thing really giving the economy a boost it seems is tourism so I'm not sure what might happen should violence actually take hold here. Everywhere else the media even whispers of trouble tourism suffers most and usually for no more violence the what we see in the US every day in most cities but it has disastrous impacts on these very tenuous economies! Kashmiris want independence but I don't see how India & Pakistan will ever let go their respective areas of control w/o violence. These occupied territories are majorly fortified.
In addition, Dal lake and the entire Kashmir valley is supplied w/ water from fast disappearing glacial rivers. Dal lake itself is suffering from increased vegitation growth and lower water levels. This is the case thruout the entire region of the Himalaya/Karakoram/Hindukush ranges...deforestation, glacial melt, and population expansion, pressures which are unsustainable even in good times which these are not!
At internet...what else! Actually, read in the paper today that the trouble in the old town yesterday was due to some folks protesting 'against' some freedom-for-Kashmir marchers and then the baton wielders moved in, shot some teargas cannisters which injured 3 young people, one was hit and had to go to hospital. Otherwise, today has been real slow...eat, internet, and eat...Bon trying to get some repair work done on a ring ...I am logging out, power just blipped off and afraid I'll lose this again!
Got going late, we went to the Museum Lalmandi/Sri Pratap Singh which was established 1887 and housed in a Mughal palace(in bad repair, but you can see alot of the papier mache decoration on walls and ceiling still). They are presently building a new museum nxt door, very modern in which they will be able to display 80% of what they have...in this old bldg only 15-20% is displayed, but I was glad to see this as it is now, not in a 'cleaned up' state. Much of it is from several archeological site which unearthed 3rd cent BC to 400AD Buddhist statuary and relics, very very detailed work, too bad it was not preserved in situ at site. Most of the rest was Mughal(18th century) and to present stuff.
Hired car to Gulmarg @2739 m. & 55 km away(2 hr drive) - the name means 'meadow of flowers'- the ski area and went up to first level of cable car @3930 m. for a view above the haze/smoke! Beautiful, lots of pines, spruce, fir, and open/park like setting altho the view of the valley below was totally smoked & hazy. They allow grazing and wood collection in this preserve so there is no dead wood lying about...we saw women carrying huge bundles of wood down the mtn to the next villages(10-12 kms) on their heads. The traffic on the way was typically Indian, jammed and congested until we began the switchbacks up the mtn. It looks like they are/have been trying to expand the road width for awhile which adds to the conjestion as well, as any road construction does. This is a destination place for Indian tourists as the crowds indeed proved...'lines' for getting up were quite intense(they don't really Q up but rather just crowd/jam into the opening to get to the cable car. Luckily, right after we got into the car the electricity stopped and we waited 10 min. or so before it started again but the other 3 fellows in our car got out in the mean time so when it started up the mtn they hadn't gotten in again and we had it all to ourselves. The car was ours on the way down as well just by chance so it was easy to take pics.
Got back and went to our favorite restaurant, Shamyana, where we are not regulars, ha! Good food and nice atmostphere.
ELECTION DAY! The only reason we've stayed here this long was because we figured this may be our only possible place(before Dehli) to get TV reception & CNN! Gotta find out today how to get transport onward, hopefully w/o having to return to Jammu!
TV failed us...electricity went off at 8 am just as they were calling Ohio for Obama...at 10 am Bon went to internet(when they open) and stayed until past 2 when electricity finally returned. We watched the replays anyway...OH, HAPPY DAY FOR EVERYONE, REALLY! I feel as tho somehow the US has vindicated itself, some things will never change but this time I believe that in just electing Obama our nation has spoken powerfully to the world in a positive manner(the way it should have spoken after 9/11). I feel like I can return home and it will feel like home again. I am able to be proud of America once again. No matter what the future brings, this day is one which I feel allows me to sing once again with a glad heart!