SRINAGAR: A young college teacher in Kashmir was killed while he was in the custody of the Indian army after soldiers took dozens of people from their homes in the tense Himalayan region, residents said Thursday.
The villagers said army soldiers and police raided Khrew village late Wednesday and took Shabir Ahmed and around 30 other people into custody. They handed over Ahmed's body to his family early Thursday, the villagers said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they feared reprisals.
A police official confirmed Ahmed's death but said the troops were responding to anti-India protests in the area. The officer, who spoke on customary condition of anonymity, said at least 25 people, including Ahmed's brother, were reported injured.
Army spokesman Col. Nitin N. Joshi said the cause of the death was being investigated. Large protests against Indian rule in Kashmir and violent clashes with police and army soldiers have occurred daily since government troops killed a popular rebel leader nearly six weeks ago. A strict curfew and a series of communications blackouts have failed to stop the protests, even as residents have struggled to cope with shortages of food, medicine and other necessities.
Protesting mobs have resorted to pelting soldiers and police with rocks and government forces have responded with bullets and shotgun pellets, leaving at least 62 civilians and two policemen dead. Thousands of civilians and hundreds of members of various government security forces have been injured.
Police and soldiers have been accused of ransacking houses and beating residents to intimidate Kashmiri protesters. Authorities say the troops only respond to restore law and order. Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan and claimed in its entirety by both. Most Kashmiris are Muslim and want an end to rule by Hindu-majority India, instead favoring independence or a merger with Pakistan.
More than 68,000 people have been killed since rebel groups began fighting Indian forces in 1989 and in the subsequent Indian military crackdown.