At least nine civilians died in Jammu and Kashmir yesterday during protests over the killing of a militant leader by security forces, police said.
Burhan Muzaffar Wani, a commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen group, was killed in Kashmir on Friday along with two other militants.
Protesters took to the streets after news of Wani’s death spread in the state.
Security forces opened fire when stone-throwing mobs targeted police stations and army posts in the southern Kashmir, the area where the slain militant belonged to.
“Of the nine people who died, eight died in retaliatory action and one died due to drowning,” the latter dying as he fled security forces, senior police official S M Sahai told reporters in the state capital Srinagar.
“There were multiple attacks at various locations, the consequence of which was unfortunate,” Sahai said, adding that there was a risk of arms and ammunition being taken from official posts during the protests.
In the Damhal Hanjipora area, crowds attacked a police station, looted weapons and fired on policemen.
More than 100 people, including 96 security personnel were injured in protests at a dozen sites in the state and the death toll was likely to rise.
Local media reports said 20 security camps were attacked and three police stations were torched.
Demonstrators shouted pro-Pakistan slogans and burned tyres in Srinagar.
“The situation in certain areas is bad, mostly south Kashmir. There have been some incidents in north Kashmir and Srinagar, but it is mostly under control,” Sahai said.
A curfew was imposed in several areas yesterday, mobile Internet services were blocked and the annual pilgrimage to the Hindu Amarnath shrine was suspended.
Streets in Srinagar were deserted except for hundreds of soldiers and police ordering people to stay indoors.
Wani, 22, joined the rebels at the age of 15 and quickly became one of the region’s most wanted militants, featuring prominently in propaganda and recruiting material on social media.
Authorities had offered a reward of Rs1mn for information leading to his arrest, NDTV network said.
Wani’s funeral in Tral in southern Kashmir yesterday was attended by an estimated 20,000 people, witnesses said.
“It was a sea of people shouting slogans in favour of freedom from India,” one said.
“Aftr many yrs I hear slogans for ‘Azadi’ resonate from the mosque in my uptown Srinagar locality,” former chief minister Omar Abdullah said on Twitter.
“Kashmir’s disaffected got a new icon y’day.”
Groups opposed to Indian rule of Kashmir have called for three days of mourning and a shutdown in the state after the rebel commander’s killing.
HM is one of several groups that for decades have been fighting around half a million Indian troops deployed in the state, calling for independence for Kashmir or a merger with Pakistan.
Tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, have died in the fighting since 1989.
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