A fresh strike called by anti-India separatists to protest the killings of two top rebels and a civilian shut down disputed Kashmir Wednesday while a teenage boy died a day after he was wounded by government forces.
Massive clashes and protests erupted in Kashmir on Tuesday after troops killed two rebel leaders in a gunbattle and fatally shot a civilian in an ensuing demonstration demanding an end to Indian rule. A 17-year-old boy who was shot by government troops died early Wednesday.
Thousands participated in the boy’s funeral in Haal village, where clashes erupted between rock-throwing villagers and government forces who fired shotgun pellets and tear gas.
Shops and businesses were closed in most parts in the region after separatists who challenge India’s sovereignty over Kashmir called for the strike to protest the killings. Authorities clamped a curfew in the old parts of Srinagar in anticipation of more protests and also blocked internet services to stop activists from using social media to rally support against Indian rule.
In recent years, Kashmiris, mainly youths, have displayed open solidarity with anti-India rebels and sought to protect them by engaging troops in street clashes during military operations against militants. The anti-India protests and clashes have persisted despite the Indian army chief warning recently that “tough action” would be taken against stone throwers during counterinsurgency operations.
Nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan each administer part of Kashmir, but both claim the Himalayan territory in its entirety. Rebel groups have been fighting since 1989 for the Indian-administered portion to become independent or merge with Pakistan. Nearly 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown.
Anti-India sentiment runs deep in Kashmir’s mostly Muslim population and most people support the rebels’ cause against Indian rule.
India accuses Pakistan of arming and training the rebels, which Pakistan denies.
Rebel groups have largely been suppressed by Indian forces in recent years and public opposition to Indian rule is now principally expressed through street protests.
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