Indian police and paramilitary troops Friday fired protesters across Indian-controlled Kashmir, killing three civilians and injuring over 200 others, officials said.
The protesters took to roads following Friday afternoon congregational prayers defying curfew and restrictions in the restive region that is seething with protests for the past 27 days.
Anti-India sentiment runs deep in the psyche of majority of Kashmiris.
According to police officials, two civilians were killed in Budgam district, while as the third one was killed in Sopore town of Baramulla district.
Reports said police and paramilitary troopers fired bullets, pellets and tear smoke shells to disperse the protesters.
“The situation was tense throughout the day in almost all the places, with protesters shouting anti- India and pro-freedom slogans filling the roads and alleys,” a police official authorised not to talk to media told Xinhua. “Today three deaths were reported and the number of injured is said to be over 200.”
Friday’s killings has brought the number of people killed in ongoing wave of unrest at least to 55.
Health officials put the number of civilians injured since the out break of protests to more than 3000. More than 100 people have also lost eyesight after being hit by pellets.
A senior police official said government forces fired to stop violent crowds from attacking them.
Authorities in the morning had extended restrictions and curfew to almost all the major towns and villages in Muslim majority areas of the region. The move was aimed at foiling the anti-India protest march to Hazratbal shrine, a main shrine in Srinagar city, the summer capital of Indian-controlled Kashmir. The call for march was given by separatists.
Police and paramilitary troopers closed all routes leading to the shrine by laying coils of concertina wire and steel barricades, besides deploying their contingents.
The local government has detained key separatist leaders fearing their participation in demonstrations would intensify anti-India protests and mobilize people in large numbers.
Reports pouring in from other places said people offered prayers in the mosques and took out protest demonstrations in more than two dozen places. The government forces continue to use shotguns for firing pellets on angry crowds despite warnings from India’s home ministry and government to minimize their use.
On Thursday a rights group, Amnesty International, called upon India to end use of pellets guns.
The youth throw stones and brickbats on contingents of police and paramilitary, who respond by firing tear smoke shells, pellets and bullets, which often proves fatal.
Shops, businesses, schools, government offices, banks and other institutions remained closed for the 28th straight day. The public transport is also off the roads.
The locals are complaining about dearth of eatables and essentials in most of the towns including Srinagar city. Health officials said they were also experiencing shortage of medicines.
Protests in the region broke out following the killing of a top militant commander of Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) Burhan Muzaffar Wani, along with his two associates, on July 8. The 22-year-old Wani was poster boy of HM, region’s indigenous militant outfit.