Indian forces clash with Kashmiri protesters at rallies

Indian forces clash with Kashmiri protesters at rallies

Home Sat Apr 18, 2015 12:26AM

More than two dozen people have been injured in a series of fierce clashes between New Delhi’s forces and the demonstrators protesting against the killing of a civilian in Indian-administered Kashmir.

On Friday, hundreds of demonstrators poured onto the streets of Srinagar, the region’s main city, and several other towns across the Muslim-majority region to denounce the shooting death of the man by Indian troops in an encounter earlier this week.

Clashes erupted in Srinagar and the southern town of Tral, located nearly 35 kilometers (22 miles) south of Srinagar. At least 25 people were injured in the clashes.

The protesters also burned the Indian flag and shouted slogans during the demonstrations.

Violence erupted when protesters threw rocks at police forces, who attacked the protesters shortly afterward, hurling tear gas canisters at the demonstrators and firing live rounds to disperse the crowd.

Indian security forces also put Kashmiri leaders under house arrest to prevent them from leading the planned march.

Meanwhile, Kashmiri pro-independence leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani in a statement called for a general strike on Saturday to protest the killing and detention of separatist leaders.

The one-day shutdown strike was also supported by the pro-independence groups that oppose New Delhi’s rule over the troubled Himalayan valley.

The latest protest rallies came after Khalid Wani, the brother of a Kashmiri anti-India commander, was shot dead in a gun battle with Indian troops on Monday in Buchoo, a densely forested area, located around 50 kilometers (30 miles) south of the main city of Srinagar.

Indian army sources said that following Wani’s death two assault rifles and “war-like stores” were recovered from the site. However, local residents have claimed that Indian troops killed Wani in a “fake encounter.”

Wani’s father has also rejected the army’s version of events, saying the 24-year-old had been tortured to death.

“His head was smashed and teeth broken. There was no bullet injury on his body. He was tortured to death,” media outlets quoted Muzaffar Wani as saying on Monday.
Indian authorities have deployed large contingents of police and paramilitary troops to most parts of Srinagar and several other major towns to prevent street demonstrations.

Indian troops are also in constant clashes with the armed groups seeking independence in the area.

Kashmir lies at the heart of more than 67 years of hostility between India and Pakistan. Both neighbors claim the region in full but have partial control over it.

The neighbors agreed on a ceasefire in 2003, and launched a peace process the following year. Since then, there have been sporadic clashes, with both sides accusing the other of violating the ceasefire.

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