Anti-India protests hit Kashmir after top rebel is killed

Sabzar and his collegue Faizan Muzzafar were killed in an encounter with forces in Saimu village on Saturday morning.

Bhat, who succeeded Burhan Wani, was killed along with another militant in Tral area. However, according to some eyewitness reports, as the encounter ended and villagers rushed to the encounter site, they found two militants lying under the debris of the building and helped them to escape.

A day after Burhan Wani's successor and Hijbul commander Sabzar Bhat were killed in separate encounters, the Kashmir Valley on Sunday is witnessing curfew in different parts.

"As the search party was closing in on the house where the militants were hiding, the ultras opened fire, triggering an encounter", they said.

"Yes, both of them were gunned down and the operation is still going on", police chief Shesh Pal Vaid told AFP.

As the news of the rebel leader's killing spread in the region, thousands of people, including students, took to the streets shouting "Go India, go back" and "We want freedom".

Traders shuttered shops and businesses across the Kashmir Valley, including in Srinagar.

Dozens of people were injured in the clashes in Anantnag, media reports said.

Also, over 4,000 security personnel were injured in stone-pelting incidents and mob violence. The authorities have suspended mobile Internet services in the valley, while the outgoing call facility on prepaid numbers has also been snapped as a precautionary measure.

Over a dozen civilians were injured when protestors clashed with security forces in south Kashmir district of Shopian. The separatists have called for a two-day shutdown to protest the killing of the two terrorists.

Meanwhile, authorities declared an indefinite security lockdown in parts of Srinagar and other major cities and towns across the Kashmir Valley starting Sunday, which marks the beginning of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

Massive anti-India protests and clashes erupted in India-held Kashmir after a top commander from the largest separatist group in the disputed region was killed in a gun battle with government forces on Saturday.

Modi's government then took steps to curtail the state's constitutional autonomy and enforced restrictions on beef and other measures seen as hostile to Muslims.

Earlier Saturday, Indian soldiers killed six suspected rebels along the highly militarized de facto border that divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan, the army said.

"Relentless operations by security forces have defeated desperate attempts by Pakistan and Pakistan-sponsored agents to spread terror in the state in the run up to the holy month of Ramzan", the defence spokesman of the Northern Command said.

In a joint statement in Srinagar, the leaders also called for a march to Tral on Tuesday to pay tributes to Sabzar Ahmad Butt and other youth martyred by the troops.

There was no independent confirmation of the latest incidents.

The two countries have fought three wars - in 1948, 1965 and 1971 - since they were partitioned in 1947, two over Kashmir.

Rebel groups have been fighting since 1989 for Kashmir's independence or merger with neighboring Pakistan.

Several armed rebel groups are fighting against Indian rule, with tens of thousands of people, majority civilians, killed in the almost three decades-old conflict. India has accused Pakistan of arming and training the rebels, which Pakistan denies.

  • Leroy Wright