Police shot and killed at least three demonstrators on Monday, as authorities tried to enforce a curfew in Kashmir in the face of some of biggest protests in two decades against India’s rule.
Police had detained three separatist leaders before protests planned for Monday. Troops enforced a curfew in the summer capital of Srinagar, where a separatist rally had been planned, and armoured vehicles patrolled mainly deserted streets.
But outside Srinagar, thousands of protesters shouting “we want freedom” defied the curfew in about dozen rural areas. Three protesters were killed and at least 50 people were injured when police fired bullets and tear gas at demonstrators.
Police have killed at least 27 protesters and more than 500 have been injured in clashes in two weeks of demonstrations in the Kashmir Valley after a land dispute involving a Hindu shrine snowballed into massive demonstrations.
Police said Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, the chairman of Kashmir’s main separatist alliance, All Parties Hurriyat (Freedom) Conference, and hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani were detained in overnight raids in Srinagar.
“Both have been detained for precautionary measures,” a senior police official, who didn’t want to be identified, said. Another separatist leader, Mohamma Yasin Malik, chief of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front, was detained on Monday after he defied a curfew, police said.
“The people of Kashmir were ready to defy the curfew and carry out the march to protest against Indian occupation,” a statement from the Hurriyat Conference said.
One person was killed and dozens were injured on Sunday when police fired bullets, tear gas and used batons to disperse thousands of pro-independence protesters defying a curfew.
The recent crisis began after the state government promised to give forest land to a trust that runs Amarnath, a cave shrine visited by Hindu pilgrims, setting off protests in the valley.
The government then rescinded the decision, which in turn angered people in Jammu.