Prayers to mark the end of Ramadan turned into anti-India demonstrations and rallies Saturday in Kashmir which has been racked by weeks of unrest.
Tens of thousands of Muslims, mostly young men, chanted, “Go India, go back!” and “We want freedom!” after they assembled in the main city of Srinagar to offer prayers on the festival of Eid al-Fitr.
Government forces have been battling to contain three months of violent demonstrations in the mainly Muslim region by Kashmiris that were ignited by the killing of a 17-year-old student by police on June 11.
A total of 70 protesters and bystanders — some just children — have been killed, mostly by security forces who have used live ammunition to disperse demonstrators after being pelted with stones.
“The protests are a form of referendum showing that Kashmiris want freedom from India,” leading separatist and key Islamic cleric Umar Farooq told AFP.