WT 24 Desk
India has long maintained that Kashmir, the Himalayan region that is the object of its long tug of war with Pakistan, is an “integral part” of its territory, LA Times reports.
But amid growing violence, street protests and international pressure for a resolution to the 70-year-old dispute, critics are asking whether India is losing control in Kashmir.
In the latest deadly attacks, seven security personnel and two civilians were killed Monday in Indian-controlled Kashmir, including two soldiers who India said were beheaded by Pakistani commandos.
Indian defense officials said that Pakistani forces fired across their disputed border and that a special forces team then sneaked across and killed an Indian soldier and a border security guard, whose bodies were found mutilated.
Calling the act “barbaric,” Indian Defense Minister Arun Jaitley vowed a response, saying the soldiers’ “sacrifice will not go in vain.” Pakistan denied the accusations, saying it had no such commando unit in the area.
“The Pakistan army is a highly professional force and shall never disrespect a soldier, even [an] Indian,” the Pakistani military said in a statement.
Separately, five Indian police officers and two private security guards were reportedly killed when suspected militants attempted to rob a van outside a bank about 10 miles south of Srinagar, the regional capital.
Omar Abdullah, the former chief minister of India’s Jammu and Kashmir state, called it a “terrible 24 hours” in Jammu and Kashmir, the Indian state that encompasses India’s portion of the disputed region.
Hizbul Mujahideen, a Kashmiri separatist group that opposes the Indian army’s presence in the territory, claimed responsibility for the attack, which comes amid worsening tensions between the majority Muslim residents and the Hindu nationalist government in New Delhi.
Since Indian forces killed a charismatic young Kashmiri militant nearly one year ago, families say that more young men have joined the anti-Indian insurgency. Large crowds of civilians have taken to the streets to throw stones at Indian soldiers and paramilitary forces, which have killed hundreds of civilians in a response that has human rights groups say has employed excessive force.