Hundreds of Sikhs in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) marched on Friday at the funeral of a teacher from the minority group killed by suspected anti-Indian rebels along with a member of the region’s Hindu community.
Supinder Kour, 46, was shot dead with colleague Deepak Chand in their school on Thursday, the third in a series of attacks claimed by The Resistance Front (TRF) rebel group this week that have left seven civilians dead.
The killings in the occupied territory drew wide condemnation from residents in IIOJK and across India as well as politicians from all sides.
Angry members of the Sikh community carried Kour’s body wrapped in a white shroud along a main street in Srinagar, shouting religious slogans and demanding justice.
They were joined by a handful of Muslim residents, who form the majority in the region. Sikhs make up around two per cent.
Officials say 28 civilians, including two labourers, have been killed by anti-India rebels this year so far, 21 of them Muslims.
Many residents say the condemnations for civilian killings are selective and often tied to the victims’ religion.
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On Thursday a resident was shot dead by occupation forces when his car failed to stop at a checkpoint in IIOJK’s southern valley, police said.
The rebel group TRF in its statements accused the seven, who were killed, of working as “occupier mercenary forces and occupier stooges”, warning that those in the employ of the Indian security forces would not be spared.
“These teachers had on 15 August harassed and warned the parents with dire consequences if any student didn’t attend the occupier regime’s 15th August filthy (sic) function at their school,” said the latest statement issued in English language by TRF on Thursday, referring to celebrations for India’s independence day in schools across the occupied territory.
Ahead of the national day, orders issued by the local government asked thousands of teachers to organise events around the national flag in a bid to root out deep-running anti-Indian sentiment in the occupied region.
For over three decades local rebel groups have been fighting Indian occupation forces, demanding independence for IIOJK or its merger with Pakistan.
Tens of thousands of civilians, soldiers and rebels have died in the fighting.
The region has been subjected to a legislative blitz since August 2019, when New Delhi abrogated its semi-autonomy, applying new laws and scrapping others in a bid to change the demography of the Muslim-majority region.