Indian Kashmir in lockdown amid anniversary tensions

Published 09.07.2018 00:00

Indian authorities imposed a lockdown in the Kashmir valley yesterday, anticipating fresh unrest as separatists urged protests to mark the anniversary of a popular separatist leader's death.

Tension had been building ahead of the anniversary with three civilians, including a teenage girl, killed during clashes on Saturday between protesters and Indian troops. Mobile internet services were shut down across Indian-administered Kashmir, roads into the restive valley were blocked and restrictions on movement were imposed in Srinagar. Authorities have clamped a total curfew in Tral, the native home of separatist leader Burhan Wani.

The charismatic young leader's death in 2016 sparked months of violent street protests that left nearly 100 dead and countless more blinded by pellet fire following an Indian crackdown. Separatist leaders urged shopkeepers to keep their businesses closed in protest to mark Wani's death.

Despite security restrictions, nearly 200 students in the University of Kashmir campus staged a protest seeking an end to Indian rule. The students carried Wani's photographs and displayed placards while chanting slogans like "Farewell our martyr" and "Go India, go back."

Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since the end of British colonial rule in 1947. India has about 500,000 soldiers deployed to its half of Kashmir, where separatists have for decades been fighting for independence or a merger with Pakistan.

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