Kashmiri youth taking up Azadi call in IOK: Report

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ISLAMABAD, Jul 27 (APP): In Indian Occupied Kashmir
(IOK), there are increasing signs of youth from educated
backgrounds taking up the call of “azadi” or freedom from
India.

An iconic example was 22-year-old Burhan Wani, a
charismatic Kashmiri commander whose killing by the Indian
forces on July 8, sparked the current protests in IOK, said a
report appeared in the Time magazine. Wani was born in a
middle-class family in a south Kashmir household.

His transformation was triggered, say local reports, by
the beating of him and his brother by Indian soldiers.

Wani soon built up a devoted following by using social
media to reach out to young Kashmiris with his images and
YouTube videos advocating struggle against the Indian security apparatus.

His funeral attracted as many as 200,000 people, young
and old, drawn to Wani’s home village of Tral from towns and villages across IOK. It was the largest such gathering in
several years, the report added.

Estimates suggested that more than half of IOK people
were under the age of 30. “They have grown up under (India’s) military shadow,” says Khurram Parvez, a Srinagar-based rights activist.

The report further said hundreds of thousands of Indian
troops poured into IOK to curb the protests, adding to an
already heavy military presence.

Although the violence peaked in the 1990s, some 600,000
Indian soldiers and paramilitary personnel remained, making up what was essentially an occupation force.

The Indian security forces have broad authority to shoot
and haul in civilians – and they have been accused of misusing their powers.

“In a 2015 report,Amnesty International said it had
recorded allegations covering “more than 800 cases of torture and deaths in the custody of army and other security forces in the 1990s, and hundreds of other cases of extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances from 1989 to 2013.” the report said

The report said as Kashmir dealt with the worst
situation in the six years, hospital wards were filled with
partially or fully blinded victims of pellet injuries, some
under 10 years old It narrated ordeals faced by 12 years old Umar, at Sri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) hospital in Srinagar, wearing dark glasses.

Some patients had their eyes covered with cotton and
white surgical bandages that contrasted sharply with the blue
and purple swelling around their foreheads, eyebrows, noses or ears.

The report said Pulwama district was part of the worst
outbreak of unrest in Kashmir in six years, with close to 50
civilians killed and over 2,000 wounded during street battles
with police and soldiers.

The use of pump-action guns by the Indian forces against
protesting Kashmiris that unleashed hundreds of small metal
pellets, at close range, can maim, and sometimes blind, their
targets for life.

Umar was not alone, the wards around him were filled
with partially or fully blinded victims of pellet injuries,
some under 10 years old.

“It is more lethal than the weapon you are calling
lethal,” says Syed Sujaat Bukhari, editor of Rising Kashmir,
a leading Srinagar-based newspaper.