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Violence erupts ahead of Modi visit to contested Jammu and Kashmir

Indian paramilitary soldiers walk near site of gunfight at a village near Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian Kashmir, on Friday. Photo by Farooq Khan/EPA-EFE
Indian paramilitary soldiers walk near site of gunfight at a village near Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian Kashmir, on Friday. Photo by Farooq Khan/EPA-EFE

April 23 (UPI) -- Violence has erupted near an Indian army base in Jammu ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's scheduled visit to the disputed Kashmir region on Sunday, reports said.

Modi is expected to hold his first public rally in Kashmir since 2019, when the government revoked the disputed region's special autonomous status, according to the Spanish news agency EFE.

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Jammu and Kashmir, administered by India as a union territory, is a bifurcated subregion of the larger Kashmir region contested by Pakistan and India since 1947.

The Muslim-majority territory is separated from the Pakistani-administered territories of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan by the Line of Control, which serves as an unofficial border along the ceasefire lines from the end of the India-Pakistan War of 1971.

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Sardar Tanveer Ilyas, prime minister of the Kashmir region controlled by Pakistan, said during a press conference in Islamabad Saturday Kashmiris on both sides of Line of Control would observe "Black Day" during Modi's visit to Jammu, Pakistan Today reported.

India and Pakistan each typically commemorate an annual "Black Day" in October to remember the start of the conflict over Kashmir in 1947.

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Ilyas accused Indian security forces of the "extrajudicial executions" of thousands of Kashmiris and claimed India was settling Hindus in Kashmir to "disturb the ratio of population."

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Dilbag Singh, the police chief in the India-controlled Jammu and Kashmir territory, said Friday that a "suicide squad" from the Kashmir-focused Jaish-e-Mohammed militant group had killed at least one security personnel and injured nine others, the Times of India reported.

Jaish-e-Mohammed has been described as a terrorist organization by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, which said such groups "that aspire to be active in Indian-controlled Kashmir remain a concern."

Singh said the group had "planned a major attack" in Jammu ahead of Modi's visit to "sabotage" the event, which was thwarted.

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In a separate gunfight, Indian security forces killed four militants in the northern Baramulla district of the Kashmir Valley, police said. Five security personnel were killed during the incident.

Pakistan has accused India of "the worst form of state terrorism" and a "disregard for international human rights and humanitarian laws" during previous "Black Day" commemorations.

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