Local media reports that Kashmiris were assaulted by members of Hindu right-wing groups in Uttarakhand state as members of India's minority community members face backlash over last week's deadly attack in India-administered Kashmir.

Indian Army soldiers in a vehicle patrol a street as a woman walks past during a curfew in Jammu, on February 17, 2019
Indian Army soldiers in a vehicle patrol a street as a woman walks past during a curfew in Jammu, on February 17, 2019 (Reuters)

New Delhi has warned against rising communal tensions across the country as Muslim Kashmiris living in Hindu-majority India face property evictions, job suspensions and attacks on social media after a suicide bomber killed 44 paramilitary troops in India-administered Kashmir.

The car bomb attack on an Indian security convoy on Thursday, claimed by Pakistan-based militant group Jaish e Mohammad and carried out by a 20-year-old local youth, was the worst in decades.

Local media quoted the attacker's parents as saying that the young man had turned to militancy after he was humiliated and beaten up by Indian security forces.

As the bodies of the paramilitary personnel who died in the attack were returned to families across India this weekend, passionate crowds waving the Indian flag gathered in the streets to honour them and shouted demands for revenge. 

Indian media and politicians have been beating up war drums ever since the attack took place.

Authorities were quick to point the blame for the bombing on neighbouring Pakistan and claimed to have "incontrovertible evidence" of Islamabad's "direct" role in the attack. No proof has been made public yet.

Pakistan has denied any role in the attack.

Kashmiri Muslims, meanwhile, are facing a backlash in Hindu-majority India, mainly in the northern states of Haryana and Uttarakhand, forcing the federal interior ministry to issue an advisory to all states to "ensure their safety and security and maintain communal harmony".

Authorities in India-administered Kashmir have also revoked security for pro-independence Muslim Hurriyat leaders, according to media reports.

Aqib Ahmad, a Kashmiri student in Uttarakhand capital Dehradun, said the owner of the house he was staying in had asked him to move out fearing an attack on his property. Rates for air tickets to Kashmir have sky-rocketed as tensions escalate, he said.

Two other students in Dehradun said they also had been asked to vacate their rooms immediately.

"Where are we supposed to go?" Waseem Akram told Reuters, demanding authorities to ensure safety of all Kashmiri students.

Local media reported that some Kashmiri students were assaulted by members of Hindu right-wing groups in Uttarakhand, while a Kashmiri man had been booked by the police in the southern city of Bengaluru under a colonial-era sedition law for a post allegedly backing the militants. 

Police in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) state said they were providing temporary accommodation to people returning to Kashmir. The police urged Kashmiris to contact their hotline for "speedy assistance in case they face any difficulties/harassment".


Fear has engulfed Kashmiri students in Haryana's Ambala district after a video on social media showed a village headman asking people to evict Kashmiri students in the area.

"In case it is not done, the person in whose residence such students are living will be considered as a traitor," the man says in the video, whose authenticity Reuters has not been able to independently verify.

Police said they were investigating the matter.

Since the video surfaced on social media on Saturday, at least half a dozen Kashmiri students have been shifted to the hostel of a university campus in Ambala.

A Facebook user named Anshul Saxena, meanwhile, has claimed credit for getting people fired or suspended for posts he calls "anti-national".

The attack on India's paramilitary police follows the deadliest year in Kashmir for security personnel since Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party came to power nearly five years ago.

Government data shows 91 officers lost their lives in Kashmir last year, about 14 percent more than 2017. 

Thousands of people, including militants and civilians, have died since the insurgency began in late 1980s.

Political leaders from Kashmir appealed to the government to ensure security of Kashmiris across India, while many people on Twitter said their homes were open to Kashmiris seeking shelter.

"Understand the pain and anguish," Mehbooba Mufti, former chief minister of J&K, said in a tweet.

"But we must not allow such mischievous elements to use this as an excuse to persecute/harass people from J&K. Why should they suffer for somebody else's action?" 

India and Pakistan each claim the divided territory of Kashmir in its entirety. Militants have been fighting Indian control since 1989.

Most Kashmiris support the militants' demand that the territory be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country, while also participating in civilian street protests against Indian administration.

Civilian resistance to New Delhi's rule has also been met with an iron fist.

About 70,000 people have been killed in the struggle for control of Kashmir.

India has an estimated 500,000 soldiers in Kashmir, which has been divided between India and Pakistan and riven by unrest since the end of British rule in 1947.

New Delhi accuses Pakistan of fuelling the uprising that has left tens of thousands of civilians dead. Islamabad denies the charge, saying it only provides diplomatic support to Kashmiris' right to self-determination.

A report published by the US Senate Intelligence Committee last month had said that "cross-border terrorism, firing across the Line of Control (LoC), divisive national elections in India, and Islamabad’s perception of its position with the US relative to India will contribute to strained India-Pakistan relations at least through May 2019, the deadline for the Indian election, and probably beyond."

The report further said that "continued terrorist attacks and cross-border firing in Kashmir have hardened each country’s (India and Pakistan) position and reduced their political will to seek rapprochement. Political maneuvering resulting from the Indian national elections probably will further constrain near-term opportunities for improving ties."

It had warned that "parliamentary elections in India increase the possibility of communal violence if Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) stresses Hindu nationalist themes."

"BJP policies during Modi’s first term have deepened communal tensions in some BJP-governed states, and Hindu nationalist state leaders might view a Hindu-nationalist campaign as a signal to incite low-level violence to animate their supporters. Increasing communal clashes could alienate Indian Muslims and allow Islamist terrorist groups in India to expand their influence."

Source: Reuters