Srinagar: Fresh clashes left two anti-India protesters dead and 22 others injured in India-held Kashmir (IHK) on Tuesday, police said, as a security lockdown marred Eid festivities in the troubled region.
Despite imposition of a curfew, protests took place in dozens of places in the region, with clashes reported in three locales.
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, said a police officer who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorised to talk to reporters.
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.
Indian Express reported that this may be the first time a curfew is in place on Eid since 1990, adding that for the first time in 26 years, no Eid congregations will be held at the Eid gah and Hazratbal shrines.
Usually bustling with activity on such occasions, Srinagar’s marketplaces were deserted, as most people remained indoors. Shops and businesses were closed as a result of the curfew, with drones and choppers being used by government forces for air surveillance.
Authorities decided to impose a curfew and keep an aerial watch after reviewing the situation ahead of the festival, a police spokesman said on Monday. “It has become imperative to impose a strict curfew… in view of the separatist march,” the spokesman said.
The curfew appeared to have foiled a planned march called by Kashmiri separatists to the United Nations Military Observers Group India Pakistan (UNMOGIP) Office in Srinagar, 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 wracked by protests for two months following the killing of a popular rebel leader.
Seventy-six protesters have been killed and more than 7,000 wounded in clashes since July in the worst violence in six years in the disputed territory. Two police officers and more than 5,000 security personnel have been wounded.
Mobile internet and cell phone services have also been partially blocked ahead of Eid, the second such disruption since July 9, the day after security services shot dead Burhan Wani, a 22-year-old militant known for his calls to arms on social media.
Wani led Hizbul Mujahideen, prominent among the groups fighting Indian control of the majority Muslim region. His death came amid a rise in violence and separatist sentiment across the state.