Indian police battle protesters in Kashmir

Security forces clash with rock-throwing demonstrators chanting "we want freedom" following Eid prayers.

    The protests follow the house arrest of a top separatist leader on the eve of the Muslim Eid al-Fitr festival. [AFP]
    The protests follow the house arrest of a top separatist leader on the eve of the Muslim Eid al-Fitr festival. [AFP]

    Police in Indian-administered Kashmir have clashed with hundreds of rock-throwing protesters who took to the streets after prayers for Eid, police and witnesses said.

    Security and paramilitary forces fought pitched battles with the demonstrators on Friday in several locations in the region's main city of Srinagar including at a major prayer ground, injuring at least 30 people.

    "We had to deal with intense clashes as soon as people finished their Eid prayers. Dozens were injured on both sides," a police officer told the AFP news agency on condition of anonymity.

    Protesters were chanting "we want freedom" and anti-India slogans as well as "arrest of our leaders is unacceptable", witnesses said.

    In the southern town of Kishtwar, a large crowd of demonstrators threw rocks at the motorcade of the state’s junior home minister, who escaped unhurt, several officials said.

    "Curfew has been imposed in the town and the army called out to assist in controlling the situation," said a government official, asking not to be identified.

    Clashes were also reported in Sopore and Baramulla, two other main towns in the region.

    House arrest

    The protests followed the house arrest of a top separatist leader on the eve of the Muslim Eid al-Fitr festival.

    Separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani had called for "peaceful protests" immediately after Eid prayers against human rights violations by government forces in the tense Himalayan region.

    Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan by a heavily militarised Line of Control with both countries claiming the disputed territory in full.

    The two nuclear-armed South Asian rivals have fought three wars, two of them over Kashmir, since their independence from British colonial rule in 1947.

    SOURCE: AFP


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