Students clash with police in Indian Kashmir protests

Published 18.04.2017 01:03

Dozens of people have been injured in anti-India protests and clashes between Kashmiri students and government forces in the disputed Himalayan region.

The clashes on Monday began in the region's key city of Srinagar when hundreds of college students took to the streets to protest a police raid in a college in southern Pulwama town over the weekend.

The protests soon spread to several colleges in Srinagar and other parts of Kashmir, leading to pitched battles between rock-throwing students and government forces, who fired shotgun pellets and tear gas.

The students were apparently angered by a police raid on a college in southern Pulwama district on Saturday in which at least 60 students were injured. "Students are protesting in a few colleges. We are dealing with a situation," a senior police office told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Indian-occupied Kashmir (IOK) region has been tense since April 9, when eight people were killed by police and paramilitary troops during election day clashes. Four people were killed over the weekend, including a street vendor shot dead by India's Border Security Force. Three more -- one of them a former counter-insurgent leader -- were killed by suspected rebels.

Footage apparently showing a civilian tied to the front of an army jeep to deter protesters from throwing stones at the vehicle has also caused outrage after it was circulated on social media last week.

The Kashmir University Students Union, a banned student body, had called for protests in all colleges and universities following Saturday's incident.

Students in Pulwama alleged on Saturday that police and paramilitary troops raided the college to try to arrest students involved in anti-India protests in the area. In a statement Saturday, the union said the police action was designed to help the state "rule by repression and fear".

Kashmiris have been seething with anger since April 9 when eight people were killed by government troops during clashes on a polling day for India's parliament seat.

The dispute about Kashmir, one of the oldest on the agenda of the U.N. Security Council, along with Palestine, erupted between India and Pakistan in 1947. Since then, more than 94,000 Kashmiris have been killed during clashes.

The clashes in Kashmir, a region divided between India and Pakistan but claimed in full by both, come ahead of the hot summer months, when protests surge. India accuses Pakistan of backing separatist fighters - a charge Islamabad denies. Kashmir witnessed deadly protests after a well-known separatist militant was killed last year. Violence has declined since the early 2000s, when thousands died each year, but disillusionment and anger against Indian rule is widespread, and the separatist revolt is now largely homegrown.

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