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|Indian police chase activists of Peoples Democratic party (PDP) protesting against India's new land laws. (Photo: AP)|
Assailants shot and killed three politicians from India’s ruling party in Kashmir late Thursday, police said, blaming militants fighting against Indian rule in the disputed region. The party says they were members of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party youth wing and one was general secretary of the party’s Kulgam district. In a tweet, the BJP condemned the killings, calling them a “barbaric terror attack.”
“Those who are responsible for this will not be spared,” it said.
Government forces launched a search for the shooters, police said. Officials did not immediately reveal other details, and no rebel group has claimed responsibility for the attack, said Associated Press.
The attack occurred in the village Y.K. Pora in southern Kashmir's Kulgam district where gunmen fired on the victims, identified as BJP District Youth General Secretary Fida Hussain Yatoo and party workers Umer Rashid Beigh and Umer Ramzan Hajam, according to Andalou Agency.
"Investigation is in progress and officers continue to work to establish the full circumstances of this terror crime. The area has been cordoned off and search in the area is going on," police said in a statement.
|Activists of Peoples Democratic party (PDP) protesting against India's new land laws that allows any Indian citizen to buy land in the disputed region shout slogans in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir. (Photo: AP)|
Tension arises in Kashmir as India enacts new laws
Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan, and both claim the region in its entirety. Rebels have been fighting against Indian rule since 1989. Most Muslim Kashmiris support the rebel goal that the territory be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country.
The attack comes two days after India enacted laws allowing its citizens to buy land in Kashmir, exacerbating concerns from residents and rights groups who see such measures as a way to change the demographics of the Muslim-majority region.
Until last year, Indians were not allowed to buy property in Kashmir. But in August 2019, Modi’s government scrapped the region’s special status, annulled its separate constitution, split it into two federal territories — Ladakh and Jammu-Kashmir — and removed inherited protections on land and jobs. The move triggered widespread anger and economic ruin amid a security clampdown and communications blackout.
|Indian police detain an activist of Peoples Democratic party. (Photo: AP)|
Earlier Thursday, police detained several pro-India Kashmiri politicians who oppose the new land laws as they tried to protest the policy in the region’s main city of Srinagar.
Altaf Thakur, a local BJP spokesman, said the party has lost nine members in militant attacks so far this year. In July, militants shot and killed a top politician along with his father and brother, who were also party members.
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