Six freedom fighters were martyred by occupation forces in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) during two separate clashes, police said on Thursday, rounding off another year of oppression by the Modi regime in the disputed territory.
According to a police statement, an Indian soldier was also killed while four others sustained injures during the shootout in the occupied valley.
Officials said that at least 380 separatists, nearly 100 civilians, and over 80 security forces personnel have been killed in the region since August 2019.
That was when New Delhi unilaterally revoked the region’s limited autonomy and brought it under direct rule, adding to anger among locals and galvanising support for self-determination.
This year the death toll was 264, compared to 321 in 2020, according to the South Asia Terrorism Portal.
Police said that with intensified military operations against the freedom fighters, the number of local fighters has dropped to fewer than 100 for the first time in a decade.
Local police chief Vijay Kumar told the Economic Times daily this week that some 70 per cent of the youth who joined separatists’ ranks this year were either martyred or arrested.
Most of those arrested are being held under anti-terror legislation called the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
The law allows people to be held for six months — often rolled over — without being charged and bail is virtually impossible.
One of those – in custody since November – is Khurram Parvez, programme coordinator for respected rights group the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS).
On December 1, the UN Human Rights Office criticised the arrest and said that the UAPA “raises serious concerns relating to the right of presumption of innocence along with other due process and fair trial rights”.
India has an estimated 500,000 soldiers deployed in IIOJK.