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Tensions high in Kashmir after video shows Indian army using a human shield


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Tensions high in Kashmir after video shows Indian army using a human shield

Clashes and ethnic tensions have again threatened to intensify in Kashmir after a video surfaced allegedly showing the Indian army using a Kashmiri man as a human shield.

Police on Monday fired tear gas on students in the region’s main city of Srinagar, the latest protest after a local election last week was interrupted by violence in which Indian security forces reportedly killed eight demonstrators.

On April 9, in Indian-administered Kashmir, Farooq Ahmad Dar, 24, was allegedly seized by Indian army troops and tied to the front of a jeep to keep stone throwers from peppering a military convoy.

The video has been widely shared on social media and has sparked outrage and a police investigation into the incident.

Both India and Pakistan claim sovereignty over the entirety of Kashmir and clashes between the two nations in the region are common. Those tensions are exacerbated by internal anti-Indian sentiment which erupted in the region in the late 1980s.

For many in Kashmir, the video clip is just one example of years’ worth of alleged human rights violations committed by the Indian army as it tries to put down the 28-year insurgency in the Muslim-majority region.

Tensions have additionally increased in recent months as both India and Pakistan accuse each other of orchestrating cross-border raids.

India also accuses Pakistan of supporting separatist fighters in Kashmir, a claim which Pakistan denies.

Omar Abdulla, an opposition leader and Kashmir’s former chief minister, took to social media to call for an “urgent inquiry”.

But according to the Times of India, the Indian government said it will stand by the soldiers and their decision to strap Dar onto the front of the jeep.

According to the newspaper, the government “concluded that the commanding officer took the decision reluctantly and as the last resort after he realised that his unit had to pass through streets crowded with a mob of stone-pelters who had also taken positions on the surrounding rooftops”.

The video of Dar tied to a jeep follows others posted to social media showing Indian security forces harassed and assaulted by civilians.

Amnesty International, who met with Dar following his encounter with the army, denounced the military’s action in a statement, saying it amounted to torture.

Dar told Amnesty he was tied to the front of the jeep for more than five hours.

“What Farooq Ahmad Dar was subjected to is cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment amounting to torture,” Zahoor Wani, senior campaigner at Amnesty International India, said. “Whether Army personnel in this case wanted to deter stone-throwers, or intimidate people by making an example of Farooq Dar, such conduct is unlawful and unacceptable. Authorities should bring to justice those responsible, including those with command responsibility, in a civilian court. Army officials must think carefully about the signals that such demeaning acts send to ordinary people in Kashmir.”

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