Hundreds of protesters clashed Tuesday with Indian forces on the third day of deadly troubles in Kashmir as the disputed Himalayan territory reeled from the killing of a tourist drawn into the unrest.
A Kashmiri man injured in earlier clashes died in hospital on Tuesday, setting off the new battles. Six Kashmiri civilians have now died in protests since a weekend siege in which security forces killed five militants.
As news of the latest death spread in Shopian district, south of the state’s main city Srinagar, residents poured onto the streets, throwing stones at security forces who fired shotgun pellets and tear gas, witnesses said. A police officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, said at least three people were critically injured in the clashes.
The restive territory has become increasingly tense in recent weeks. Battles between rebels and government forces have left 15 dead, including seven civilians, in the past week.
Shops and schools shut across the Kashmir valley following a protest call by separatists opposed to Indian rule. Hundreds of police in riot gear patrolled the old quarters of Srinagar amid a new curfew.
Late Monday, a tourist from India’s southern Tamil Nadu state was killed when the vehicle he was traveling in was hit by stones as it drove into a protest outside Srinagar. Stone throwing is a regular tactic in battles between young protesters and security forces.
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, a top separatist leader and chief Muslim cleric, condemned the attack on tourists as hooliganism.”It is totally against our ethos of treating tourists as respected guests and brings a bad name to the people’s movement,” Farooq said in a tweet.
R. Thirumani, 22, was going to join his family in the tourist resort of Gulmarg when he was critically injured.”He was hit in the head by a stone. On reaching a hospital, he vomited which went into his lungs and choked him to death,” Shesh Paul Vaid, director general of police in Indian-administered Kashmir, told AFP.
A police officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, said at least three people were critically injured in the clashes.
The restive territory has become increasingly tense in recent weeks. Battles between rebels and government forces have left 15 dead, including seven civilians, in the past week. Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since the end of British rule in 1947. Both claim the territory in full.
Rebel groups have for decades fought Indian forces deployed in the territory. They want independence or a merger of the region with Pakistan. Tens of thousands, mostly civilians, have died in the fighting. India currently has more than 500,000 troops in Kashmir.
© Agence France-Presse