At least 17 people were killed and a prominent separatist leader arrested as turmoil continued to sweep Indian-administered Kashmir, the Indian police said on Thursday.
Yasin Malik, the leader of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), was arrested in Anantnag district of Indian-Kashmir after he launched a signature campaign to include Kashmiris in any future talks between Indian and Pakistan over the disputed territory.
“He was detained with two other senior leaders of the KKLF because they posed a threat to law and order,” a senior police official said.
Malik, who has spent nearly 10 years in Indian prisons, is seeking Kashmir’s independence from both India and Pakistan.
Before being led away by the police, Malik said the JKLF aimed to collect two million signatures to press for the involvement of Kashmiris in any future talks.
Earlier during the day, the Indian army said it had shot dead eight Kashmiri fighters in overnight battles. Four of them had been killed while they attempted to sneak into the troubled state from across Pakistan, the army said.
Elsewhere, five fighters and two civilians were killed in separate shootouts across the region.
A man and his son were beheaded in Baramulla district north of Srinagar by suspected fighters, the police claimed.
With more than a dozen separatist groups battling Indian forces, Kashmir has been mired in violence since 1990. At least 38,000 people have so far died in the violence with some estimates putting the figure at neraer 70,000.