Photo essay: 50 injured in Kashmir's worst protest since India's crackdown

A young girl cried after she saw the protestors getting injured and the use of weapons by the security forces. Photo by Avinash Giri.

A young girl cried after she saw the protestors getting injured and the use of weapons by the security forces. Photo by Avinash Giri.

SRINAGAR — By the late afternoon, at around 4 pm, the revered Janab Sahib mosque was full of protestors injured with pellet guns, tear gas and chili grenades fired by the Indian paramilitaries to quell the unrest in Srinagar’s Soura region of Indian-administered Kashmir.

On Friday, hundreds of angry Kashmiris, including women and children, gathered at the mosque after saying their prayers to protest against the Aug. 5 decision of the Indian government to revoke the state’s autonomy and statehood and to enforce a curfew and communications blockade – there’s no access to Internet or mobile phone services. Some landlines have been opened in the area. The restrictions have isolated most from medical care, with even more reachable hospitals running short of life-saving drugs.

“Go India, go back,” the protesters chanted. “There is only one solution, gun solution, gun solution!”

The protest remained non-violent until security forces tried to enter the area to disperse the demonstration. The locals had constructed walls from all sides to prevent the forces from entering the area surrounding the mosque. The troops shot pellet guns, tear gas and pepper gas shells into the crowd, and the protestors responded by throwing stones.

“They detain our boys without any charges and then blackmail us to stop protesting,” said a local resident on conditions of anonymity fearing reprisal by the forces in the future. “We won’t let them in.”

Within minutes, the whole area became a battleground between the protestors and the security forces. The fight, which continued for hours, left around 50 protestors severely injured. The injured protestors were attended by the locals themselves inside the mosque. The travel restrictions and fear of arrests prevented them from going to a hospital. Despite frequent protests in Kashmir Valley, the Indian officials claim that the situation is peaceful.

Earlier in the day, the locals suspected the security forces may attack to enter Soura, the epicenter of protests. So far, they have preventing the forces from entering.  

“We are ready for everything, but we won’t let them in, even if we have to die,” said Sahil, a young man who didn’t want his full name to be used. “They (Indian forces) are killing us every day with their actions, so we are not afraid to die.”

Sahil gave up studying 10 years ago, saying students can’t really study with the atmosphere they face in Kashmir.  

The Indian government has deployed thousands of paramilitary troops that roam the streets and block road entrances to enforce a tight curfew at sundown.

The locals at Soura are resisting with a similar tactic by blocking all its entry and exit points. People, including kids and old men, are guarding the gates ‘round the clock.

During the protest, some chanted for U.S. President Donald Trump to stop India from carrying out human rights violations in the region. Some also thanked neighboring Pakistan for raising the issue before the international community.

Kashmir is a disputed territory between the nuclear-armed neighbors India and Pakistan. Both the countries have fought two of their three wars over control of the region – which they each claim in its entirety.

Locals said that the crackdown by the forces on Friday was the worst in 25 days since Aug 5. They also believe that the tension in the Valley is going to escalate in the days to come.

The Jenab Saheb mosque in Soura, which looked peaceful in the morning, became the battleground between the protestors and security forces in the latter half of the day on Aug. 30. The protest was scheduled in the precinct of the mosque after the afternoon prayers. Locals say that the mosque protects them from Indian security forces. Photo by Avinash Giri.

The Jenab Saheb mosque in Soura, which looked peaceful in the morning, became the battleground between the protestors and security forces in the latter half of the day on Aug. 30. The protest was scheduled in the precinct of the mosque after the afternoon prayers. Locals say that the mosque protects them from Indian security forces. Photo by Avinash Giri.

The man wearing the skull cap (in the center) was shot at by Indian security personnel with a full cartridge of lead pellets in 2018. “He remained in the ICU for 15 months,” his brother, Mehrazudin War, said. The victim, who is still unable to walk without support, came to greet the protestors. Photo by Avinash Giri.

The man wearing the skull cap (in the center) was shot at by Indian security personnel with a full cartridge of lead pellets in 2018. “He remained in the ICU for 15 months,” his brother, Mehrazudin War, said. The victim, who is still unable to walk without support, came to greet the protestors. Photo by Avinash Giri.

The anti-India sentiment is visible in the area. Various slogans denouncing India, and praising Pakistan, can be seen on the gates of the shops – which the people have closed to mark their protest against the Indian government unilateral decision of stripping Kashmir’s autonomy and statehood. Photo by Avinash Giri.

The anti-India sentiment is visible in the area. Various slogans denouncing India, and praising Pakistan, can be seen on the gates of the shops – which the people have closed to mark their protest against the Indian government unilateral decision of stripping Kashmir’s autonomy and statehood. Photo by Avinash Giri.

Many kids, including girls who more than boys are usually kept inside for safety, participated vehemently in the protest. Photo by Avinash Giri.

Many kids, including girls who more than boys are usually kept inside for safety, participated vehemently in the protest. Photo by Avinash Giri.

People came up with placards warning the Indian government of the repercussions of abrogating the special status of Kashmir. Photo by Avinash Giri.

People came up with placards warning the Indian government of the repercussions of abrogating the special status of Kashmir. Photo by Avinash Giri.

A seven-year-old kid raising slogans; “Go India, go back,” “There is only one solution, gun solution, gun solution!” Photo by Avinash Giri.

A seven-year-old kid raising slogans; “Go India, go back,” “There is only one solution, gun solution, gun solution!” Photo by Avinash Giri.

The protestors also requested the American president, Donald Trump, to stop India from committing human rights violations in the region in the name of maintaining law and order. Photo by Avinash Giri.

The protestors also requested the American president, Donald Trump, to stop India from committing human rights violations in the region in the name of maintaining law and order. Photo by Avinash Giri.

To stop the protest, the Indian security forces started shelling tear gas grenades on the precinct of the mosque to disperse the angry crowd. They also tried to enter the area, which the locals have blockaded since India’s Aug. 5 decision to remove Kashmir’s autonomy. Photo by Avinash Giri.

To stop the protest, the Indian security forces started shelling tear gas grenades on the precinct of the mosque to disperse the angry crowd. They also tried to enter the area, which the locals have blockaded since India’s Aug. 5 decision to remove Kashmir’s autonomy. Photo by Avinash Giri.

After the attack by the forces, the protestors, including kids, rushed to resist the forces from entering the gates. They started pelting stones at the paramilitaries to stop them from breaching the blockade. Photo by Avinash Giri.

After the attack by the forces, the protestors, including kids, rushed to resist the forces from entering the gates. They started pelting stones at the paramilitaries to stop them from breaching the blockade. Photo by Avinash Giri.

The fight between the forces and the protestors became very intense as time passed. Many protestors were injured by the pellet guns, and tear gas shells, used by the security forces. Photo by Avinash Giri.

The fight between the forces and the protestors became very intense as time passed. Many protestors were injured by the pellet guns, and tear gas shells, used by the security forces. Photo by Avinash Giri.

While the men fought a direct battle, women supported them from behind by providing them with stones. Men and women fought in a coordinated effort. Photo by Avinash Giri.

While the men fought a direct battle, women supported them from behind by providing them with stones. Men and women fought in a coordinated effort. Photo by Avinash Giri.

Some women started beating the shutters of the shops to call more people to join and defend the area from the Indian forces. Photo by Avinash Giri.

Some women started beating the shutters of the shops to call more people to join and defend the area from the Indian forces. Photo by Avinash Giri.

A girl carries an ax to break the bricks to provide more stones to the men who were fighting. Photo by Avinash Giri.

A girl carries an ax to break the bricks to provide more stones to the men who were fighting. Photo by Avinash Giri.

Though the forces used tear gas and chili grenades, women, alongside men, stood their ground. Many struggled to breathe normally after coming in contact with the shells. Photo by Avinash Giri.

Though the forces used tear gas and chili grenades, women, alongside men, stood their ground. Many struggled to breathe normally after coming in contact with the shells. Photo by Avinash Giri.

A victim who was hit by a lead pellet in his head. The fight which continued for hours left many protestors injured. Photo by Avinash Giri.

A victim who was hit by a lead pellet in his head. The fight which continued for hours left many protestors injured. Photo by Avinash Giri.

The young man was hit badly by lead pellets all over his body. The injured protestors were attended by the locals themselves inside the mosque as they could not be taken to any hospital due to restrictions in the area. The locals claim it was the worst attack against protesters since Aug. 5. Photo by Avinash Giri.

The young man was hit badly by lead pellets all over his body. The injured protestors were attended by the locals themselves inside the mosque as they could not be taken to any hospital due to restrictions in the area. The locals claim it was the worst attack against protesters since Aug. 5. Photo by Avinash Giri.

Many women were seen praying after seeing their loved ones getting injured. Photo by Avinash Giri.

Many women were seen praying after seeing their loved ones getting injured. Photo by Avinash Giri.

An old woman wailing after she saw young men of her injured by the forces. She was cursing the Indian state for persecuting Kashmiris. Photo by Avinash Giri.

An old woman wailing after she saw young men of her injured by the forces. She was cursing the Indian state for persecuting Kashmiris. Photo by Avinash Giri.