Kashmir ‘mob drowns policeman’


    There are fears of more violence in Indian-administered Kashmir, after a policeman drowned when his car was pushed into a river, police say.

    However some accounts have said the car was not pushed into the river, but fell in after the driver lost control in an attempt to avoid stone-throwing mobs.

    At least 30 people have died and many have been injured in clashes over the death of a popular separatist rebel.

    Burhan Wani, 22, died in a gunfight with the Indian army on Friday.

    The violence that has erupted after his death is the worst seen for years in the restive region, claimed in its entirety by both India and Pakistan.

    Kashmir has been a flashpoint for more than 60 years, sparking two wars between the countries.

    Kashmir deaths after key militants killed

    Why a cricket match caused student unrest in Kashmir

    Within the disputed Muslim-majority territory, some militant groups have taken up arms to fight for independence or a merger with Pakistan.

    The last bout of serious violence in the region was in the summer of 2010, when more than 100 people died in anti-India protests, which broke out after police shot dead a teenager.

    Who was Burhan Wani? By Shujaat Bukhari, Srinagar

    Burhan Wani is largely credited with reviving the image of militancy in Indian-administered Kashmir.

    Born to a highly educated upper-class Kashmiri family, Wani is believed to have been driven to militancy at the age of 15, when – alongside his brother – he was beaten up by police “for no reason”.

    Wani was extremely active on social media and, unlike militants in the past, did not hide his identity.

    His video messages, which would often go viral in Kashmir, were on the topics of Indian injustice, and the need for young people to stand up to oppression.

    Indian officials have said that he was instrumental in persuading local boys to take up arms.

    Why the death of militant has Kashmiris up in arms

    Curfew under strain

    In the latest incident on Sunday, the culmination of a weekend of violence, a crowd in the Jhelum area pelted a police officer’s car with stones and pushed it into a river where he drowned while inside the vehicle, police said.

    However some accounts say that the car fell in after the driver tried to avoid the stone-throwing mob.

    The policeman, identified as Feroz Ahmad, is among more than 20,000 “irregulars” who are used to provide additional manpower during police operations in Kashmir.

    BBC correspondent Riyaz Masroor says tensions remained high on Monday, with crowds attempting to violate curfew orders.

    The Indian government has reached out to political parties and separatist leaders in the state, in an attempt to restore calm.

    However four top separatist leaders released a joint statement in which they described the government call for help as “childish”, adding that the government had to “abandon the policy of stopping people’s marches by bullets”.

    The situation has also led to the suspension of a popular Hindu religious pilgrimage to the Amarnath temple shrine, which has stranded some 15,000 devotees in the neighbouring region of Jammu, Indian media reported.

    More than 2,000 pilgrims who were on the way back from the temple have been airlifted out of Kashmir, police officials told the BBC.



    What sparked the violence?

    The violence was sparked by the death of Wani, a commander of the region’s largest rebel group, Hizbul Mujahideen.

    Thousands attended his funeral which was held in his hometown of Tral, about 40km (25 miles) south of Srinagar, on Saturday.

    Police stations and military installations were attacked in violent clashes after the funeral, with several buildings burned down, police added.

    The state government has said that it will also investigate reports of excessive police violence towards unarmed protesters.

    What is the fear now?

    Rights groups have described the current situation as a state of emergency. Hospitals remain filled with wounded protesters and phone and internet services are suspended.

    The BBC’s South Asia correspondent, Justin Rowlatt, says this is the worst violence in the region for some years and the fear is that if it is not brought under control soon, many more people could be killed and injured.

    The level of separatist insurgency violence in the region has ebbed and flowed since 1989, but it has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people, mainly civilians.