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Indian police arrest 3 over heckling paramilitary troops in Kashmir

Indian paramilitary troops stand guard during a strike after eight people were killed in Srinagar, Kashmir, April 11, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Indian police say it have arrested three young suspects who allegedly heckled a group of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir over the weekend, when a regional by-election was marred by violence and strike.

According to Director General of Police SP Vaid, the arrests were made on Friday, a few days after a video clip went viral on social media, showing a group of young protesters allegedly heckling, slapping, punching and kicking a retreating file of CRPF personnel in Kralpora Budgam district during pooling event there last Sunday.

The paramilitary troops, who were reportedly instructed not to open fire, were quietly walking down a street to their camp when they came under attack by the youths.

“Police have identified 11 persons involved in the incident. So far, we have arrested three accused. We are also questioning two other persons who are in our custody," Valid said, adding that they praised the restraint shown by the paramilitary personnel in the video. "Any armed force in the world would have retaliated with force."

Valid also said the CRPF, India's largest paramilitary force, had filed a complaint against "the ruffians" who heckled the forces. "They will be dealt with as per law."

The local by-election in Kashmir for a vacant seat in India's parliament was plagued with violent protests, strikes and clashes with police, which claimed the lives of eight civilians and wounded almost 100 others, many of whom from bullets fired by Indian police and paramilitary forces.

Another video, which went viral and triggered outrage among people, allegedly showed a policeman who killed a young protester by shooting at his head. According to officials, around 100 police officers and paramilitary soldiers were also injured in the clashes.

Kashmiri protesters clash with Indian security forces near a polling station in Srinagar on April 9, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Muslim-majority Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan but claimed in full by both since the two partitioned and gained independence from Britain in 1947. The two countries have fought three wars over the disputed territory. They, however, reached an agreement to maintain a ceasefire in Kashmir in November 2003.

Since then, there have been sporadic clashes, with the two sides trading accusations of violating the ceasefire, but no major armed conflict between the two countries.

Relations between India and Pakistan have been strained in the past several months, with New Delhi blaming Islamabad for a raid on an army base in Indian-controlled Kashmir last September, which killed 19 soldiers. The Indian army blamed Pakistan-based militants for the assault. Islamabad denies any role in the attack.

The restive region has also witnessed an increase in mass protests and violent attacks since early July last year, when a top pro-independence figure was killed in a shootout with Indian troops. Dozens of people have lost their lives in the ensuing crackdown. The crackdown, however, has failed to halt the protests.

India has already deployed around 500,000 soldiers in its portion of the disputed region, where militant groups have for decades been fighting for independence or a merger with Pakistan.

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