March 2019 News
'Everything Went Black': Attack Rattles A Tense Jammu And Kashmir7 March 2019
The New York Times
Srinagar: Fears of communal violence were once again raised in the disputed region of Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday when a grenade blew up at a crowded bus stand, killing one person and wounding many others. Around the same time, videos of two Indian men beating Kashmiri street vendors in a northern Indian city went viral online, further stoking tensions. The violence followed a week of hostilities in Kashmir between India and Pakistan, both of which claim the mountainous region. On Thursday, witnesses said that a young man lobbed a grenade toward a crowd of people, including many students, who were waiting for a bus in central Jammu, one of the larger cities in the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir. 'There was a loud bang - everything went black in front of my eyes,' said Sat Kumar, a trader, who was taken to the hospital along with more than two dozen others who were injured in the attack, some critically. The young man who threw the grenade initially got away. But later in the day, Indian police officials said they had apprehended someone with the help of CCTV footage. Indian officials identified the suspect as a 17-year-old Kashmiri who was part of a militant group fighting against Indian rule in Kashmir. The police said that during an interrogation, he had confessed to throwing the grenade. Last month, a young Kashmiri separatist blew up a bus full of Indian soldiers, setting off a sharply escalating military crisis between India and Pakistan, which India has accused of supporting separatist militants. India and Pakistan have feuded for decades, and both wield nuclear arms. Other countries, including the United States and China, have urged the two sides to step away from conflict. The crisis was somewhat defused late last week after Pakistan returned an Indian pilot whose plane it shot down over Kashmir. Some in the region have wondered whether the bus stand attack might be connected to India's coming elections and a nefarious effort to provoke animosities between Hindus and Muslims in the country. The Jammu area is predominantly Hindu, while the larger Jammu and Kashmir region is majority Muslim. Jammu has a history of religious tensions erupting into violence. M.K. Sinha, a police official in Jammu, urged people to remain calm. 'The culprits will not be spared,' he said. India and Pakistan continue to eye each other warily, and artillery shells continue to fly across the disputed border in Kashmir. Last week, shelling killed several people on both sides of the border. In Lucknow, a large city in northern India, the police arrested four people on Thursday on suspicion of beating up Kashmiri street vendors after a video went viral that showed the attack. Wearing saffron shirts, the color favored by many Hindu nationalists, the attackers called the street vendors 'terrorists' and said, 'You sell here and throw stones there,' referring to protests in Kashmir. The attackers slapped the Kashmiri men in the face and hit them with a long wooden stick. This was hardly an isolated incident. After the Indian convoy was attacked in mid-February, hundreds of Kashmiri college students at universities in India were chased off their campuses, and some were beaten up. And in New Delhi, the capital, some Kashmiris were thrown out by their landlords simply for being Kashmiri.