Prominent Kashmiri lawyer-activist shot dead in Srinagar

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Prominent Kashmiri lawyer-activist shot dead in Srinagar

A prominent lawyer-activist was fatally shot by assailants in the main city in Indian-administered Kashmir, police and the victim’s relatives said on Friday.

Babar Qadri was shot on Thursday evening at his home in Srinagar by unidentified gunmen, police said.

Qadri’s relatives said two men came to his home and posed as his clients. As Qadri came out, they fired at him and fled, they said.

Qadri was rushed to a hospital where doctors declared him dead. Police said they were investigating.

Qadri, in his late 30s, was an outspoken debater on India’s television news channels where he would seek to defend Kashmir’s right to self-determination.

In one of the recent debates, he shouted “Down with India!” in a response to the chant “Down with Pakistan!” by the news channel’s anchor.

In recent days, Qadri was locked in a bitter feud with some lawyers about the work of the bar association.

Kashmir is no stranger to targeted killings since 1989, when an armed rebellion erupted against the Indian rule in the disputed region. Hundreds have been killed in such ways and human rights groups have blamed both rebels and Indian troops for covert killings.

Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan and both claim the region in its entirety.

Most Muslim Kashmiris support the rebel goal that the territory be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country.

New Delhi blames Islamabad for backing rebels – a charge Pakistan denies. Anti-India sentiment runs deep in Kashmir – a Muslim-majority region of 12 million people.

Tens of thousands of civilians, rebels and government forces have been killed in the conflict.