Defense Minister of India visit Kashmir amid civilian deaths probe

Minister of Defense Rajnath Singh’s current visit to Indian-administered Kashmir has been prompted by recent unrest following the alleged deaths of three civilians while in army custody.

The three men were apprehended for interrogation after a suspected militant attack resulted in the deaths of four soldiers last week. This prompted an inquiry into the civilians’ deaths amid local allegations of mistreatment at a military camp.

Although the army has refrained from comment, they have assured their cooperation with the investigation. Additionally, an internal investigation has been initiated by the army officials to delve into the circumstances surrounding the deaths.

During his visit to Kashmir to assess security measures in the region, Minister Singh expressed concern for the injured soldiers and emphasized the significance of every army personnel. He assured that necessary steps were being taken to investigate the incident thoroughly.

Minister Singh is scheduled to meet with the families of the deceased civilians in the Poonch district at a later time.

The incident has triggered outrage among locals and political factions in the valley, demanding a transparent and impartial investigation into the matter.

As tensions escalated in certain areas due to protests, authorities suspended mobile internet services in Pooch and its adjacent district.

Allegations of excessive force and mistreatment by security forces towards Kashmiri locals have been a longstanding issue in one of the world’s most heavily militarized zones.

The territorial dispute over Kashmir between India and Pakistan, both claiming ownership of the region in its entirety while controlling only portions, has perpetuated a separatist insurgency for more than thirty years, resulting in significant casualties. India accuses Pakistan of instigating violence, a claim denied by its neighbor.

Numerous families have accused Indian security forces of falsely branding civilians as militants and orchestrating extrajudicial killings during this period. While the army has conducted inquiries in some instances, it has refuted involvement in other alleged incidents.

Reports indicate that at least eight civilians were detained for questioning by the army following the suspected militant attack on two army vehicles, resulting in casualties among soldiers.

Of the detained individuals, three were discovered deceased, their bodies handed over to the police, who then informed their families. The remaining five individuals were admitted to an army hospital for treatment of their injuries.

According to a relative of one of the deceased civilians, they were instructed to retrieve the bodies from an army camp on Friday evening. Families have alleged that the bodies exhibited signs of severe torture.

Amidst the escalating tensions, a video purportedly depicting Indian army personnel mistreating the three men surfaced on social media. However, the authenticity of the clip could not be independently verified by the BBC.

Subsequently, the police registered a murder case against unidentified individuals on Sunday.

In response, the Indian Army released a statement affirming ongoing investigations and their commitment to providing complete support and cooperation in the investigative process.

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