Video footage showing a young man tied to the front of an army vehicle being paraded in a village located in central Kashmir’s Budgam district went viral last week over social media. A Hindi-speaker is heard in the background saying, “Stone throwers will meet a similar fate.”
An army spokesperson, Colonel Rajesh Kalia, said in a statement, “The contents of the video are being verified and investigated.”
Internet services including the broadband connections in Kashmir were shut down the night before the by-elections on April 9, and resumed on April 13, after which the videos started surfacing online, reported the Economic Times. The area was the scene of violent demonstrations last weekend as Indian police and paramilitary forces clashed with protesters. During the unrest, the government forces killed eight civilians and injured more than 150 others, also obstructing the polling in the region.
A 7.14 voter turnout was recorded initially but the re-poll at 38 polling stations later showed a mere 2 percent voter turnout. “Only 709 of the 34,169 voters exercised their franchise across all the 38 polling stations by the time the polling ended at 4 pm,” an election official told the Hindustan Times Thursday.
Anti-India sentiment reigns strong in the India-administered Kashmir of nearly 12 million where 70 percent are Muslims. The deployment of Indian troops in the region has caused resentment and the rebels have openly expressed an interest in Kashmir’s liberation or an alliance with Pakistan since the early 1990s.
The Kashmir conflict is at the heart of tension between India and Pakistan. So far, two out of three wars the two neighboring countries have fought since their independence in 1947 have been over Kashmir. India continues to accuse Pakistan over training and arming rebel groups in the region to gain control, while Pakistan has continued to deny the claim.
According to Live Mint, there’s been an alarming increase in Kashmiri youths joining militant groups, especially after the death of Burhan Wani, a commander of the Kashmir-based militant outfit Hizbul Mujahideen killed in July 2016.