Assailants fatally shoot Hindu man in Kashmir

SRINAGAR, India (AP) — Assailants on Saturday fatally shot a Kashmiri Hindu man in violence police blamed on militants fighting against Indian rule in the disputed region.

Police said militants fired at Puran Krishan Bhat, who is from the minority community of Kashmiri Hindus, at his home in southern Shopian district. He was taken to a hospital where he died, police said in a statement.

Police and soldiers cordoned off the area and launched a search for the attackers.

In August, a local Hindu man was killed and his brother injured in Shopian in a shooting that police also blamed on insurgents.

Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan and claimed by both in its entirety.

Rebels in the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir have been fighting New Delhi’s rule since 1989. Most Muslim Kashmiris support the rebel goal of uniting the territory, either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country.

India insists the Kashmir militancy is Pakistan-sponsored terrorism. Pakistan denies the charge, and most Kashmiris consider it a legitimate freedom struggle. Tens of thousands of civilians, rebels and government forces have been killed in the conflict.

Kashmir has witnessed a spate of targeted killings since October last year. Several Hindus, including immigrant workers from Indian states, have been killed. Police say the killings — including that of Muslim village councilors, police officers and civilians — have been carried out by anti-India rebels.

The spate of killings come as Indian troops have continued their counterinsurgency operations across the region amid a clampdown on dissent and press freedom, which critics have likened to a militaristic policy.

Kashmir’s minority Hindus, who are locally known as Pandits, have long fretted over their place in the region. Most of an estimated 200,000 of them fled Kashmir in the 1990s, when an armed rebellion against Indian rule began. Some 4,000 returned after 2010 as part of a government resettlement plan that provided them with jobs and housing.

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