India, Srinagar: Police superintendent Aijaz Ahmed said the young man died from injuries sustained when a tear gas canister hit his head during the unrest in Kupwara. A protester was killed in India-held Kashmir on Wednesday as angry residents clashed with police, a day after three people died when the army fired into a crowd of civilians incensed by the alleged molestation of a girl.
Authorities in the restive region had imposed a partial curfew after Kashmiri leaders called for a general strike over Tuesday’s deaths of two civilian protesters and a 70-year-old woman working in a nearby field who was hit by a stray bullet. The soldiers opened fire on Tuesday when protesters stormed an army bunker and set it on fire in the northern town of Handwara.
“We imposed restrictions in the old town of Srinagar and in Handwara to prevent violence,” said director general of police, K. Rajendra. But groups of residents took to the streets of Handwara after the woman was buried, throwing stones at the police who responded with tear gas, witnesses said. The army expressed regret over the shootings and ordered an inquiry, saying anyone found guilty would be “dealt with”.
Rights groups, however, say such probes rarely yielded any concrete results and were often aimed at calming public anger. The incident has heightened tensions in the region, where people resent the large Indian troop presence and accuse soldiers of rights abuses. Handwara residents stormed the bunker on Tuesday after a soldier from the post reportedly assaulted a teenage girl as she tried to use a nearby public toilet, police and witnesses said. Meanwhile, Kashmiri groups challenging India’s rule over the region called for a general strike on Thursday and anti-India protests on Friday.