SRINAGAR, Kashmir — The masked militants barged into a college in Kashmir, a Muslim majority area in India, demanding to know the non secular identification of its academics. Then they separated two non-Muslim academics and shot them at shut vary, a police officer mentioned.
The killings on Thursday within the metropolis of Srinagar had been the most recent in a sequence of assaults largely concentrating on Hindu and Sikh civilians in Kashmir, as soon as once more elevating alarm in regards to the rise of a militancy that drove out non secular minority teams from the area practically three many years in the past.
They usually got here at a time of excessive tensions that adopted the Indian authorities’s choice to strip Kashmir of its semiautonomous status in 2019 and restrict civil liberties within the area.
The police didn’t establish the attackers. However the Resistance Entrance, a little-known militant group working in Kashmir that emerged after India moved to revoke the area’s autonomy, claimed accountability for the assault.
The police within the area say that suspected militants have killed 27 civilians this yr, seven of them — together with three Muslims — previously 10 days. The victims have included a neighborhood pharmacist, a taxi driver, and a member of a youth group.
“That is inhuman and barbaric,” mentioned Waqar Ahmad, a Kashmiri Muslim, outdoors the varsity in Srinagar, Kashmir’s greatest metropolis, the place the 2 academics had been killed.
“We’re combating a political battle, not a spiritual one,” he mentioned. “Nobody must be killed and definitely not for non secular identification. Those that killed them aren’t serving to Kashmiris.”
Kashmiris concern that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s transfer to vary the area’s standing is aimed toward altering the demography of India’s solely Muslim-majority state by bringing in additional folks — particularly Hindus — from different elements of the nation.
Mr. Modi’s authorities has additionally clamped down on democratic dissent within the area, placing underneath home arrest even leaders who had lengthy supported the reason for the Indian state, sparking fears that hard-line militants would step up their violent actions.
India has lengthy accused neighboring Pakistan, which additionally controls a portion of Kashmir and claims the area in full, of orchestrating the latest violence. Pakistan has denied these accusations.
Dilbagh Singh, the highest Indian police official in Kashmir, blamed Pakistan for creating bother within the area, saying that it was supporting militant teams that had been making an attempt to destabilize the realm and drive a wedge between Hindus and Muslims.
“Individuals who don’t have anything to do with politics are being focused to create concern,” Mr. Singh mentioned. “Assaults like these are aimed toward creating pressure between Kashmiri Muslims and different communities. To present native Muslims a foul identify.”
The Resistance Entrance mentioned on social media that it had “carried out the focused assault on two non-locals who had harassed the dad and mom of the scholars to salute the occupier’s flag on August 15,” referring to celebrations for India’s Independence Day. This yr, for the primary time in many years, Kashmiri colleges had been asked by the Indian government to hoist the Indian flag.
On Thursday, the police looked for suspects in neighborhoods in Srinagar.
One of many two academics killed, Deepak Chand, a Hindu, had lately moved to the area from Jammu, the place he lived for many years after the rise in separatist militancy compelled an exodus of Hindus from Kashmir within the early Nineties.
Among the many small variety of Kashmiri Hindus who had stayed behind was Makhan Lal Bindroo, a pharmacist. He was shot useless on Tuesday, amongst three civilians killed on that day, in an act broadly condemned by non secular and separatist leaders, and political activists.
Vikram Singh, a relative of Supinder Kaur, a Sikh who was principal of the varsity and was additionally killed Thursday, mentioned her household wouldn’t carry out final rites till the attackers had been discovered.
“She, too, will develop into the sufferer of an ‘unidentified gunman’ — identical to all of the others killed within the final 30 years,” Mr. Singh, mentioned. “We is not going to carry out any final rites until we come to know why she was killed and for what cause. We wish justice.”
As mourners entered Ms. Kaur’s home on Thursday, a Muslim lady, Safina Bano, stood outdoors the gate weeping. Ms. Kaur used to provide her cash from her wage each month in order that she might ship her youngsters to high school, Ms. Bano mentioned.
“She was a girl with a giant coronary heart and a pleasant smile,” she mentioned. “When she helped my youngsters go to high school, she didn’t suppose they had been Muslims, Hindus or Sikhs.”
She added: “She didn’t should die like this, nobody must be killed like this.”
Iqbal Kirmani contributed reporting.