Grim Eid in Kashmir as protests erupt against Indian rule

Indian police and paramilitary shot tear gas and pellet guns at pro-Independence protesters in Srinagar city and other provinces as the disputed territory marked another gloomy Eid. Rights groups say some 53 people were killed in Ramadan.

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Kashmir is expected to remain tense in the run-up to the July 8 anniversary of the killing of popular rebel commander Burhan Wani.

Indian government forces fired tear gas and controversial pellet guns at pro-Independence protesters brandishing banners and placards as the disputed territory of Kashmir marked the Muslim festival of Eid on Monday.

Authorities detained some pro-Independence political leaders to try to avert trouble on Eid, but stone-throwing started as tens of thousands of people poured out of mosques in the main city of Srinagar after midday prayers.

Daily troubles left 53 people dead during Ramadan in the India-administered territory, which is also claimed by Pakistan, according to the Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society.

Civilians have been killed as they try to stop police and troops from arresting or killing militants. A police deputy superintendent was beaten to death by a crowd outside one Srinagar mosque last Thursday. 

Resistance leaders arrested

More than 50,000 people gathered for prayers at the Hazratbal shrine and over 40,000 at the Eidgah mosque. Youths started hurling stones at security forces as the masses poured onto the streets. 

Clashes were also reported in the Sopore, Anantnag, Rajpora, Shopian and Safakadal areas in and on the fringes of the city.

Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Syed Ali Geelani were among the pro-Independence and pro-Pakistan politicians held under house arrest for the Ramadan climax. 

Farooq called the Indian government "shameless" in a tweet in which he said he had been prevented for eight years from giving an Eid sermon.

"After the prayers people started peaceful protests against the house detention of Mirwaiz. Indian police didn't allow them to come out of the prayer ground. The soldiers fired tear gas shells at the protestors wounding many which sparked clashes," Srinagar-based journalist Haziq Qadri told TRT World. 

Tense days ahead

Kashmir is expected to remain tense in the run-up to the July 8 anniversary of the killing of popular rebel commander Burhan Wani.

The United Jehad Council (MUJC) - an amalgam of over a dozen rebel groups - on Monday announced a week-long programme to commemorate Wani's killing.  

Last week India deployed about 2,000 extra troops in southern Kashmir, according to English language newspaper Greater Kashmir.

New Delhi has also rushed 100,000 plastic bullets and PAVA grenades to quell the popular dissent. 

But in a special Ramadan video message released on Monday, India Home Minister Rajnath Singh said that he has "full faith that this festival of humanity will help to bring peace, tranquillity and friendship in the Valley."

Kashmir has been divided between nuclear rivals India and Pakistan since their partition in 1947 when the British vacated the sub continent. Both claim the tiny Himalayan region in its entirety.

Fighters of UJC umbrella - estimated to be not more than 300 with an enormous residents' support - are fighting an asymmetric warfare against over half a million Indian soldiers to gain independence or unify the territory with neighbouring Pakistan. 

Tens of thousands, mostly civilians, have died in the armed conflict since 1989.  

TRTWorld and agencies