India-administered Kashmir observes first day of the three-day strike called by pro-independence groups a day after Indian troops shot dead seven civilians and three rebels in anti-India protests and fighting.

Kashmiri villagers offer joint funeral prayers for a civilian Abid Lone, right, and local rebel Adnan Ahmed in Pulwama, India-administered Kashmir, Saturday, December 15, 2018.
Kashmiri villagers offer joint funeral prayers for a civilian Abid Lone, right, and local rebel Adnan Ahmed in Pulwama, India-administered Kashmir, Saturday, December 15, 2018. (AP)

A security clampdown and a strike sponsored by pro-independence groups fighting against Indian rule shut most of India-administered Kashmir on Sunday, a day after chaotic protests and fighting killed seven civilians and four combatants in the disputed Himalayan region.

Indian armed police and paramilitary soldiers in riot gear fanned out across the region in anticipation of anti-India protests and clashes, as residents buried one of the rebel commanders killed in Saturday's gun battle in Pulwama district.

The Indian soldier-turned-rebel commander Zahoor Ahmad Thoker, was buried in a local graveyard at Sirnoo village after multiple funerals on Saturday as well as Sunday morning, Rising Kashmir reported.

Troops spray gunfire

At least seven civilians were killed and over three dozen wounded on Saturday when Indian troops fired at anti-India protesters following a gun battle that left three rebels and a soldier dead.

Residents accused troops of directly spraying gunfire into the crowds. 

Police said in a statement that they regretted the killings but that the protesters had come "dangerously close" to the fighting.

Resistance groups opposed to Indian rule of Kashmir called for a three-day general strike to protest Saturday's killings and announced a march on Monday to one of India's largest military bases in the disputed region.

Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, a senior member of the unified Joint Resistance Leadership group, took to Twitter to vent anger at Indian troops' action, saying the Indian forces should "kill all of us at one time rather than killing us daily". 

On Sunday, Indian army warned civilians against marching towards its military base in Srinagar's Badami Bagh area saying, "evil attempts of militant-Separatist-Pakistan nexus to pit the civilian population against the Security Forces" will be foiled, Greater Kashmir reported.

Authorities stopped train services and cut cellphone internet in Srinagar and other restive towns, and reduced connection speeds in other parts of the Kashmir Valley, a common government tactic to prevent anti-India demonstrations from being organised and stop dissemination of protest videos by Kashmiris.

Shops and businesses closed in other areas with no security restrictions.

Solidarity with rebels

Nuclear-armed India and Pakistan each administer part of Kashmir, but both claim it in its entirety. Rebels have been fighting Indian control since 1989. New Delhi has deployed over 500,000 troops in the Muslim-majority region.

The killings of the seven civilians and three rebels angered Kashmiris who deeply resent Indian rule and support rebel cause that the territory be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country.

In recent years, mainly young Kashmiris have displayed open solidarity with the rebels and sought to protect them by engaging troops in street clashes during India's counter-insurgency operations despite repeated warnings from the Indian authorities.

Nearly 100,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies