WASHINGTON – Resentment among Kashmiri youth is a major cause of unrest in the Indian-occupied valley, according to the Editorial Board of influential US newspaper, the New York Times, which has condemned the powers of Indian troops under the Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA).
The editorial said that Kashmir is engulfed in a renewed wave of violence, which many see as the worst since 1989, after Indian security forces killed Burhan Wani, a charismatic 22-year-old insurgent leader, on July 8.
His death triggered widespread protests that have resulted in the death of some 40 people so far, largely because of the force with which Indian forces have tried to suppress the protesters.
“Thousands have been injured, many by pellet guns wielded by the police and security forces as a crude form of crowd control. Kashmir’s hospitals are overwhelmed, and more than 100 people, mostly young, are threatened by pellets lodged in their eyes,” the editorial board said, referring to brutal tactics adopted by the Indian security forces to disperse the protesting crowds.
According to the editorial, a major cause of the ‘uprising’ is the resentment among Kashmiri youths who have grown up under the brutal rule of Indian security forces, which “act against civilians with impunity.”
The dispute Muslim-majority valley has formed the backdrop of a decades-long struggle for freedom from the Indian yoke and is subject to India’s AFSPA, a draconian law which gives Indian troops the authority to arrest and shoot to kill. “The result is a culture of brutal disdain for the local population,” the Editorial Board said.
The valley has once again been shaken by violence which, the Board said, is a major setback for peace in the region.
The report said that Kashmiris were living in a state of siege, under a strict curfew which has blocked access to almost all sorts of communication, including cellular, landline and internet services. Police also raided many newspaper offices and banned publication for three days.
The board criticized the indiscriminate use of pellet guns to disperse protest rallies, which have caused hundreds of people to live with permanent blindness.
The report called for an independent investigation into the use of force by the Indian military.