Clashes sparked by Indian Army's ‘use of Kashmir protester as human shield’

Samuel Osborne

Violence in contested Indian-ruled Kashmir has increased after the army allegedly tied a man to the front of a jeep as a human shield.

Police have filed a case against an army unit after soldiers in the Himalayan region were accused of seizing a 24-year old shawl weaver on 9 April, before strapping him to the front of their vehicle and parading him through villages.

A video of the episode widely circulated on social media exemplifies for many viewers the human rights abuses allegedly committed by Indian security forces battling to contain a separatist insurgency now in its 28th year.

Army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Rajesh Kalia said the video's authenticity was being ascertained, adding, "Action will be taken against those found guilty of misconduct."

Soldiers picked up the shawl weaver, Farooq Ahmad Dar, near the home of a relative after he voted, he told local media.

"Look at the fate of the stone-pelter," a soldier is heard saying over a loudspeaker in the video while Mr Dar is tied to the vehicle.

His treatment was "unlawful and unacceptable" rights group Amnesty International said in a statement.

The renewed attacks come as dozens of people were injured as police clashed with students in the region's main city of Srinagar.

The protests began when hundreds of college students took to the streets to protest a police raid in a college in southern Pulwama town over the weekend, in which at least 50 students were injured.

Police said the first clash occurred after officers tried to stop hundreds of students from marching in the city's main commercial hub.

The students were chanting slogans such as "Go India, go back" and "We want freedom."

The protests soon spread to several colleges in Srinagar and other parts of Kashmir, leading to pitched battles between rock-throwing students and government forces firing shotgun pellets and tear gas.

Since 1989, rebel groups have been fighting for independence from India or its merger with Pakistan. About 70,000 people have been killed in the rebel uprising and a subsequent Indian military crackdown.

Violence has declined since the early 2000s, when thousands died each year, but disillusionment and anger against Indian rule is widespread, and the separatist revolt is now largely homegrown.

Additional reporting by agencies

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