Indian forces martyred 6 Kashmiris ahead of Narendra Modi visit to IOK

Indian forces martyred 6 Kashmiris ahead of Narendra Modi visit to IOK

SRINAGAR – Two days before Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the disputed region, six Kashmiri freedom fighters were martyred and an Indian paramilitary officer was killed in clashes in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJ&K) on Friday.

Modi is scheduled to speak on Sunday in his first public event in the disputed region since New Delhi stripped it of its semi-autonomous status in 2019 and divided it into two directly governed territories.

Early on Friday, a gunfight broke out on the outskirts of southern Jammu city after police and soldiers spotted a group of Kashmiri men in Sunjwan, a garrison town.

Two Kashmiri fighters and a paramilitary officer were killed and at least two soldiers and two police officials were wounded in the ensuing fighting, police said.

Modi is scheduled to speak some 15 kilometres from Sunjwan town. The region has remained on edge since 2019, as authorities put in place a slew of new laws that critics and many residents fear could change majority-Muslim Kashmir's demographics.

Modi’s two previous visits after Kashmir's status was changed were to military camps to celebrate a Hindu festival with soldiers.

Separately, Indian forces battled a group of Kashmiri fighters in Malwah, a village northwest of the region’s main city of Srinagar, leaving four of them dead.

According to the local police, firefight began on Thursday after counterinsurgency police and soldiers raided a cluster of civilian homes in Malwah.

At least four soldiers and a policeman were also wounded, a police statement said.

Police identified one of the slain fighters as Yousuf Kantroo and said he had been the longest surviving Kashmiri fighter.