NEW DELHI — Militants in Kashmir struck again on Monday, killing an Indian Army major and at least three other soldiers just days after orchestrating a devastating bombing that left dozens of Indian security forces dead.
Fears are now rising that Kashmir, a disputed region that lies between India and its regional rival, Pakistan, could be sliding into an especially deadly phase again.
Diplomatic relations between India and Pakistan are breaking down; Kashmiri students are being rounded up and attacked; other young people have been charged with sedition for criticizing the Indian Army; and Indians are lashing out at Pakistani civilians, including Bollywood actors.
The recent violence in Kashmir — a majority Muslim region that is mostly controlled by India, a predominantly Hindu nation — has uncapped a wave of jingoism that is sweeping across India. The orange, white and green national flag is going up everywhere, and many people say they want revenge.
Pakistan has a long history of supporting militant groups in the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir. India has accused Pakistan of orchestrating the recent violence and vowed to retaliate. But India has few good military options, analysts say — and the public seems to sense this.
“There is a real sense of frustration and anger because Pakistan is in the picture,’’ said Gurcharan Das, an Indian writer. “A lot of Indians feel that India has failed with regard to Pakistan and that it has not been tough enough and has appeased Pakistan.’’
“But,’’ he added, “I don’t think anybody really wants a war.’’
The trouble on Monday started around 2 a.m. Under the cover of darkness, Indian soldiers in the Pulwama District of the Kashmir Valley surrounded a house that was thought to be a militant hide-out.
The militants opened fire on the approaching contingent, killing a major and three soldiers and critically wounding at least one other soldier. At least one civilian was killed in the crossfire.
Indian officials said the militants inside the house were members of Jaish-e-Muhammad, or the Army of Muhammad, the separatist group that claimed responsibility for the bombing last week that killed at least 40 Indian soldiers — one of the deadliest attacks in the region in decades.
By midafternoon, Indian officials said two militants had been killed. But security forces were struggling to get closer to the house because hundreds of Kashmiri civilians were hurling rocks in an effort to shield the militants, who are widely seen in Kashmir as legitimate freedom fighters.
Pakistan has denied involvement in the recent bombing in Kashmir, for which Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India has promised “a befitting reply.”
Retaliation would carry huge risks, however. Both nations field nuclear arsenals, and regional dynamics are especially sensitive right now. United States officials have been calling on regional powers to support a peace plan for an American withdrawal from Afghanistan, where Pakistan has long been a powerful influence.
But India is headed into major elections in the next few months, and Mr. Modi hardly wants to look weak.
Pakistan’s security services have a long history of supporting Kashmiri separatists and other militant groups, often using them as a proxy force against India. The United States considers the Army of Muhammad a terrorist organization; the group is officially banned in Pakistan, but Indian and American officials say it still operates there under different names.
The status of Kashmir has been disputed for decades, with India and Pakistan claiming large chunks of the mountainous region. Many of the militants in Kashmir are young men who have spent their entire lives in the Indian-controlled areas and have been shaped by years of heavy occupation by Indian troops. Security analysts say many militants still receive money and weapons from Pakistan.
On Thursday, a Kashmiri militant slammed a truck containing an unusually powerful bomb into a convoy of Indian troops moving across the Kashmir Valley. More than 40 paramilitary officers were killed, and Indian officials say they believe the bomb maker slipped in from Pakistan.
Since then, Indian security forces have been searching for accomplices, often going house to house.
Kashmiri civilians are also being targeted. At a university in Dehradun, someone used WhatsApp to threaten Kashmiri students, saying: “We will not leave you alive.’’
A board outside a mobile phone shop read: “Dogs are allowed, but Kashmiris are not allowed.”
Witnesses said that mobs swept through Dehradun, beating up Kashmiri students and forcing scores to flee.
“I am very scared,’’ said Junaid Ayub Rather, an engineering student who managed to hire a car to leave Dehradun.
He cited years of conflict and misery in Kashmir, where tens of thousands of civilians have been killed over the decades as India, Pakistan and various militant groups have fought for control.
“Tell me,’’ Mr. Rather said, “have you ever heard of Kashmiris attacking or threatening civilians from other parts of the country who reside in Kashmir to avenge that?”
Diplomatically, the two countries are pulling apart. On Friday, India recalled its ambassador to Pakistan. On Monday, Pakistan did the same.
Across India, more than a dozen people have been arrested, lost their jobs or were expelled from school for writing social media posts that were seen as critical of the Indian military or interpreted by the authorities as siding with the attackers.
Surabhi Singh, a senior coordinator for the Center for Advocacy and Research, a nonprofit that works with marginalized communities, wrote a post on Facebook shortly after the bombing, criticizing the Indian Army’s record.
She wrote: “If Attack on Armed Soldiers is Cowardly … Attacking Unarmed Civilians including Hapless Children must be an Act of Bravery.’’
Over the weekend, she was fired.
“I was targeted,” said Ms. Singh, who has also worked as a translator for international news organizations, including The New York Times. “You’re not allowed to think freely anymore. You have to toe the line of the majority. It is jingoistic.”
Even actors are being punished. A number of Indian film organizations announced a boycott of Pakistani actors working in India’s film industry, by far the biggest in South Asia.
Suresh Shyamlal Gupta, the president of the All Indian Cine Workers Association, said India needed to attack Pakistan “from all sides.”
Jeffrey Gettleman reported from New Delhi, and Sameer Yasir from Srinagar, Kashmir. Suhasini Raj, Hari Kumar and Kai Schultz contributed reporting from New Delhi.