Thousands of troops in riot gear patrolled streets in Indian Kashmir on Tuesday, bracing for fresh protests after police opened fire on a funeral procession, killing one person and wounding 14. Residents in some major cities were told to stay indoors.
The mostly Muslim region, where resistance to rule by predominantly Hindu India is strong, has been under a rolling curfew and strikes for nearly a month after anti-India street protests and clashes surged in the region. Residents accuse government forces of killing at least 17 people, mostly teenagers, in the demonstrations.
Aside from armed police and paramilitary soldiers, streets in many parts of Kashmir were largely deserted Tuesday. In Srinagar, the main city in the Indian-controlled portion of the region, government forces laid razor wire and erected steel barricades to block access to the downtown parts of the city.
“The restrictions have been imposed to stop protests and clashes,” said a police officer on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak with media.
Most shops, schools and government offices remained closed and public transport stayed off the roads.
On Monday, police opened fire on thousands of Kashmiris carrying the body of Faizan Buhroo, which was recovered from a river, through the streets of Baramulla. Locals said the teenager drowned after being chased by police during weekend rallies.
One person was killed and 14 others were wounded, three of them critically.
Initially, authorities said police shot into the crowd after some members of the procession tried to set fire to the house of a policeman accused in the boy’s death. But later they said troops fired in self-defense after “someone among the mob fired and also threw a grenade which did not explode.”
The local government replaced two top police officers in the town following Monday’s shooting.
Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan and claimed by the both in its entirety.
A separatist insurgency fighting for Kashmir’s independence from Hindu-majority India or its merger with Muslim-majority Pakistan has been active since 1989, and tens of thousands have been killed in the conflict. But resistance is now principally through street demonstrations.