India imposes restrictions, snaps internet in parts of India-administered Kashmir to prevent protests called by pro-independence groups to mark the second death anniversary of popular rebel commander Burhan Wani.
Police and soldiers fanned out across much of India-administered Kashmir to enforce a security lockdown on Sunday as pro-independence groups challenging Indian rule called for a shutdown and protests on the second anniversary of the killing of a charismatic rebel leader.
Indian forces patrolled deserted streets and sealed off the hometown of Burhan Waniin anticipation of widespread anti-India protests and clashes in the region.
Wani, 22, was killed along with two associates in a brief gun battle with Indian troops two years ago.
Separatist leaders called for a general strike and protest march to Wani's hometown to honor him.
His killing triggered open defiance against Indian rule and led to months of massive protests and clashes in the disputed region.
At least 100 people, mostly young men and students, were killed and thousands wounded, hundreds of them in the eyes and blinded by shotgun pellets fired by Indian troops.
Students of Zakura campus of University of #Kashmir held protests on Sunday in connection with the second death anniversary of HM commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani. pic.twitter.com/FyK0LPY9Cw— Faizan Altaf (@Faizanaltaf_15) July 8, 2018
University students protest
Despite security restrictions, nearly 200 students in the University of Kashmir campus staged a protest seeking an end to Indian rule. The students carried Wani's photographs and displayed placards while chanting slogans like "Farewell our martyr" and "Go India, go back."
Police and paramilitary soldiers in riot gear and carrying automatic rifles laid steel barricades and coiled razor wire on roads and intersections to cut off neighborhoods in a bid to stop protests.
Authorities also suspended internet on mobile phones in the region, in a common practice to make organising protests more difficult.
Indian officials also suspended for a day an annual Hindu pilgrimage to a mountain cave that draws about half a million people each year.
Amidst severe restrictions imposed all over #Kashmir today remembers #BurhanWani his associates & over 200 civilians Killed By Armed Forces since then. Great sacrifices rendered by our #Martyrs is firmly impressed on our collective memory and moves us forward in our mission— Mirwaiz Umar Farooq (@MirwaizKashmir) July 8, 2018
Indian army kills three civilians
The anniversary comes a day after the Indian military's firing killed a teenage girl and two young men in a southern village.
Wani had rejuvenated Hizbul Mujahideen, the largest of Kashmir's rebel groups as he attracted dozens of new recruits while using Facebook and other social media sites.
His death and subsequent protests made the armed rebellion mainstream in Kashmir and gave new life to the rebel movement that had withered in recent years, reduced to just about 100 fighters in scattered guerrilla groups.
According to official estimation, about 200 young men have joined rebel ranks, some of them after snatching weapons from soldiers and police, since Wani's killing.
It also cemented a shift in public mood by displaying anger at Indian rule openly and violently when troops raid villages and towns to hunt rebels.
We're the world's largest democracy, with the fourth largest Army, and yet we remorselessly justify and rationalize the killing of our own Kashmiri children just because they carry a sentiment, a slogan, and a stone.— Sanjiv Bhatt (IPS) (@sanjivbhatt) July 7, 2018
We need to revisit our Kashmir policy...before it is too late.
Villagers who had learned to hide any sympathy they felt for fighters now speak of them openly with reverence and warmth and also engage in deadly clashes with government forces during their counterinsurgency operations.
Anti-India sentiment runs deep in Kashmir, a Himalayan territory divided between India and Pakistan but claimed by both in its entirety.
Rebels have been fighting Indian control since 1989, demanding that the territory be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country. India accuses Pakistan of arming and training the rebels, a charge Pakistan denies.
Nearly 100,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown.