Indian troops killed three Kashmiri youths, including at least two engineering students, in held Kashmir’s Islamabad district on Monday, triggering widespread protests in the region, according to local and international media reports.
Indian forces conducted a pre-dawn raid on a cluster of homes in a village in Anantnag on a tip that militants were hiding there and came under fire from them, police said.
“Troops retaliated and in the brief fighting three militants were killed,” claimed Altaf Khan, a local police officer.
Those killed were identified as Eesa Fazli from Srinagar, and Syed Owais and Sabzar Ahmad Sofi from Anantnag district, according to agency reports cited by the Times of India.
According to the ToI report, Fazli was a B.Tech student at Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah University in Rajouri district.
Indian officials alleged that the three killed were separatists who were gunned down by security forces in a gunbattle.
As the news of the killings spread, protests and clashes against Indian rule broke out in several parts of the region.
Officials ordered schools closed on Monday and clamped a curfew on some parts of Srinagar, the urban centre of protests and clashes against Indian rule, and Islamabad district in held Kashmir.
Most shops and businesses in Srinagar and some other Kashmiri towns were shutdown to protest the killings, while authorities deployed more paramilitary soldiers and police in riot gear to patrol streets in the densely militarised region.
Despite the curfew and shutdowns, residents held protests in Islamabad and Kokernag, some of which turned into clashes with security forces.
Meanwhile, the authorities placed Hurriyat Forum Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq under house detention at his Nigeen residence and arrested Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front Chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik from his Maisuma residence to prevent them from leading any protests against the killings.
Anti-India sentiment runs deep in India-held Kashmir, which in recent years has seen renewed militant attacks and repeated public protests against Indian rule.
Nearly 70,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown.