Strike continues as curfew lifted from most of held-Kashmir

SRINAGAR: Authorities on Monday lifted a curfew imposed in most parts of India-held Kashmir as part of a 52-day security lockdown, although most shops and businesses remained closed due to an ongoing strike called to protest Indian rule in the disputed Himalayan region.


Government forces on Monday removed steel barricades and coils of barbed wire from the roads across the region, but officials said the curfew would continue in some parts of the old quarters of Kashmir’s main city of Srinagar and in the southern Pulwama area.

Public transport was off the roads in Srinagar but some private vehicles were seen on the streets.

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 separatist 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.

At least 68 civilians have been killed and thousands injured, mostly by government forces firing bullets and shotguns at stone-throwing protesters.

Two policemen have been killed while hundreds of government forces have been injured in the clashes.

Rebel groups have fought for decades some 500,000 Indian troops deployed in the territory, demanding independence for the region or a merger of the territory with Pakistan.

Rights groups say 70,000 people, mostly civilians, have died in the fighting and thousands disappeared after they were taken away by security forces since 1989 when an armed rebellion against Indian rule began.