SRINAGAR: India’s prime minister called an emergency meeting Tuesday to discuss Kashmir’s escalating violence amid anti-India protests that have left at least 28 people dead in clashes with authorities.
The protests erupted over the weekend after Indian troops killed the popular, young leader of Kashmir’s largest militant group fighting since the 1990s against Indian rule in the Himalayan region.
Defying curfews and paramilitary troops and riot police on patrol, crowds of stone-throwing youths rallied Tuesday in the main city of Srinagar and other places around the region.
Separatist politicians, most of them under house arrest, extended a call for a general strike through Wednesday.
Police said Tuesday that the death toll from the street violence had reached 28, after three young men died overnight.
Most of those killed were teens and men younger than 26 from southern Kashmir, police said. Doctors and government officials said they were struggling with a medical emergency after hundreds of civilians were admitted to hospitals with bullet and pellet wounds.
At least 100 troops were also injured in the clashes. Amid reported scuffles between law enforcement and hospital staff, authorities appealed for calm.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, having just returned from a four-nation tour in Africa, called a high-level government meeting Tuesday morning to discuss how to calm the region and restore peace.
On Monday, authorities said they sent at least 2,000 more law enforcement troops to the mountainous region, where hundreds of thousands are already deployed on a permanent basis.
Indian officials also lifted a suspension on the annual Hindu pilgrimage to a mountain cave that draws about half a million people each year, and asked that law enforcement ensure the security of the pilgrimage.
Across Kashmir on Tuesday, shops were shuttered, businesses closed and cellphone and mobile Internet services were suspended in parts of the region.