Police in Indian-administered Kashmir arrested 13 women for holding an anti-India protest and two suspected militants shot and killed a truck driver near an apple orchard where he had picked up fruit boxes, police said Tuesday.
The women, carrying placards reading “Respect Fundamental Rights” and “Why downgrade Jammu and Kashmir,” assembled Tuesday in a park in Srinagar, the main city in the region.
Police whisked them away to a nearby police station as they tried to march through the main business area of Lal Chowk. Police said they were arrested and sent to a prison for “apprehension for breach of peace.”
The protesters included a sister and a daughter of Farooq Abdullah, a former top elected official who was arrested after India’s government downgraded the region’s semi-autonomy and imposed a security and communications lockdown in August.
Another woman, New Delhi-based activist Sushobha Barve, also was arrested.
A joint statement by the protesters said they felt “betrayed, humiliated and violated.” They called for the immediate release of hundreds of people under detention and the restoration of civil liberties and people’s fundamental rights.
The shooting of the truck driver on Monday came during the apple season. Apple sales are more than 20 per cent of Kashmir’s economy, and police in the region say insurgent groups are pressuring traders and truck drivers to avoid the apple trade as part of anti-India protests.
Truck set on fire
Top police officer Muneer Ahmed Khan said the masked gunmen hijacked the truck from outside the orchard, where the vehicle was loaded with 800 apple boxes. They killed the driver after he had driven them about a kilometre from the spot, Khan said.
He said the gunmen set the man’s truck on fire and fled from Sindoo Shirmal, a village in southern Kashmir.
On Sept. 6, unknown gunmen fired at a fruit trader in northern Sopore, injuring him and four of his family members.
Militants have been fighting India’s rule in the disputed Himalayan region since 1989. Tensions have been high and the apple trade has suffered after India’s government imposed a security and communications lockdown in August.