SRINAGAR: Protests against Indian rule erupted at many places in Kashmir on Wednesday after authorities lifted a curfew throughout the disputed Himalayan region for the first time in 54 days. A young man was killed and several others were injured in clashes between rock-throwing protesters and government forces.
Residents said a protest erupted in northern Nadihal village after troops prevented trucks carrying fruit from entering the area. They said police and soldiers also beat up residents and ransacked homes in the village.
A police officer said government forces tried to stop protesters from marching on the main village street and retaliated by firing bullets and shotgun pellets when residents hurled rocks at them. He said one man was killed and five others were wounded, three of them critically.
The officer spoke on condition of anonymity in keeping with department policy.
Protests demanding an end to Indian rule were also reported in other places in the region, including the main city of Srinagar. At least 20 people were reported injured.
Despite the lifting of the curfew, shops and schools remained closed because of a protest strike called by separatists challenging India’s sovereignty over Kashmir.
The curfew, a series of communication blackouts and a tightening crackdown have failed to stop some of the largest protests against Indian rule in recent years, triggered by the killing of a popular rebel commander on July 8.
Since then, tens of thousands of people have defied security restrictions, staged protests and clashed with government forces on a daily basis to seek an end of Indian rule.
At least 69 civilians have been killed and thousands injured, mostly by government forces firing bullets and shotguns at rock-throwing protesters. Two policemen have been killed while hundreds of government forces have been injured in the clashes.
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.
More than 68,000 people have been killed since rebel groups began fighting Indian forces in 1989 and in the subsequent Indian military crackdown.