SRINAGAR: Protesters who threw stones in Kashmir, controlled by India, killed a driver of what they thought was a military truck, police said on Monday, when a paralyzing security blockade entered its fourth week.
However, the transformation of the ancient Himalayan kingdom of seven million people into a barricade and barbed wire fortress has not prevented protests and clashes with security forces.
At the last demonstration on Sunday in the Anantnag district, protesters threw stones at a truck that they believed was a military vehicle. The 42-year-old driver was hit in the head and died, police said.
The Press Trust of India news agency said two men had been arrested for the incident.
India says that no civilian has died by police action since August 5. But residents have said three people have been killed.
Meanwhile, some police officers, sitting outside a shop in Srinagar without weapons, riot gear or even clean uniforms, are weighing their loyalties. Thirty Kashmir policemen, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals from their superiors, said they had been marginalized and, in some cases, disarmed by New Delhi-based authorities since the government downgraded J&K from one state to two territories administered by the federal government.
Discord among the police
The police force was surprised by the sudden movement, which led officers to feel spiritless, trapped between the federal security forces now reported and friends and neighbors who question their loyalties like never before.
"At the end of the day, we do not belong to ours or are entrusted to us by the higher authorities," said an officer.
Officers described the sudden reorganization of Kashmir as a betrayal by the federal authorities they had been serving at risk of social alienation in their communities.
Many of the police said they took their firearms issued by the department days before the government order was presented in Parliament because authorities feared they could rebel.
At least three fights have erupted between police and soldiers since they caused injuries on both sides, two police officers said.
Unlike Indian paramilitary soldiers who run a maze of checkpoints armed with assault rifles, shotguns, tear gas canisters and two-way radios, Kashmir police only carry canes.
"It has been a quiet job these days," said an officer. "We have become employees and helpers in the field for soldiers. Why should we carry weapons? After all, we are also part of this besieged society," he said.
Published on Dawn, August 27, 2019