Kashmir burns again as India responds to dissent with violence
The hospitals are filling up with gunshot victims but angry protesters say the world is blind to their plight. Andrew Buncombe reports from Srinagar
A dozen men appeared, gathered around a blood-smeared trolley, rushing its occupant towards the emergency surgery room. Abdul Rashid, said his friends, had been shot in the head by police who had opened fire on a peaceful gathering. “There was no stone-pelting, nothing,” yelled one of the 25-year-old’s friends, as medics pulled shut the doors to the surgery room. “There was no curfew … They fired indiscriminately.”
Once again, Kashmir is burning. Buildings and barricades have been set alight and its people are enraged. The largest towns are packed with heavily-armed police and the hospital wards are full of young men with gunshot wounds. Around 50 people have been killed since June, more than 31 in the last week alone, and dozens more have been wounded. The dead include young men, teenagers and even a nine-year-old boy, reportedly beaten to death by the security forces after he tried to walk to the local shop.
And yet for all their pain, the people of Kashmir believe they are suffering alone. They say that unlike places such as Kosovo or East Timor, which both secured independence in recent years, the world is deaf to Kashmir’s demands for autonomy. They blame the US and UN for not doing more and criticise Britain’s David Cameron for refusing to raise the issue of Kashmir when he visited India last month, declining to upset his hosts, with whom he was seeking to boost trade and investment deals, even as he bluntly criticised Pakistan for exporting terror. “We were disappointed and so were the people,” said Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, a moderate separatist leader who has been placed under house arrest. “Of all the foreign countries, Britain has more moral responsibility for this mess.”
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