Eid festivities marred in Occupied Kashmir; 1 protester killed

SRINAGAR: Fresh clashes left one anti-India protester dead and nearly two dozen injured in India’s portion of Kashmir on Tuesday, police said, as a security lockdown marred Eid festivities in the troubled region.

Security forces fired tear gas and shotgun pellets to quell protesters in the Bandipora area of northern Kashmir and Shopian in the south, as well as in Srinagar, the region’s main city, a police officer said. Demonstrations took place in dozens of places in the region, which has been wracked by massive protests since July.

A demonstrator was killed Tuesday in Bandipora, said the police officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to talk to reporters. At least 22 were injured in clashes in three different places in the region.

Shops and businesses were closed, with a curfew in effect in the entire Kashmir Valley. Most people remained indoors for the Islamic festival of Eid al-Adha, which fell on Tuesday. Usually bustling with activity on such occasions, Srinagar’s marketplaces were deserted.

Authorities did not allow congregational Eid prayers in the main mosques and Eid grounds in the region, but prayers were held by people in small neighborhood mosques.

The curfew seemed to have foiled a planned march called by separatist leaders to the Srinagar office of United Nations military observers, which was set up to monitor a cease-fire between India and Pakistan.

Police said in a statement that authorities used drones and helicopters for surveillance in the region, which has been hit by protests for two months following the killing of a popular rebel leader. At least 78 civilians have been killed and thousands wounded in protest-related violence, mostly by government forces firing bullets and pellets.

Two policemen have also been killed and hundreds of others injured in the clashes.

The ongoing curfew, a series of communication blackouts and the deployment of tens of thousands of Indian soldiers have failed to stop the protests against Indian rule.

Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan and claimed by both. Most Kashmiris want an end to Indian rule and favor independence or a merger with Pakistan.

India and Pakistan have fought two wars over control of Kashmir since they won independence from British colonialists in 1947. India accuses Pakistan of arming and training insurgents to attack government forces and other targets, a charge Islamabad denies. Pakistan says it provides only political and diplomatic support to insurgent groups. -AP