Students and Indian police clash as protests intensify in Kashmir

Hundreds of stone-hurling students engaged Indian police in the capital of India-administered Kashmir while police fired live rounds amid an increase of violence in the disputed Himalayan region.

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Tensions between students and Indian police often spiral into anti-India protests resulting in intense clashes.

Hundreds of stone-hurling students clashed with Indian police in India-administered Kashmir on Monday while police fired live rounds.

The clashes come amid an increase in violence in the disputed Himalayan region.

The student protesters shouting "We want freedom" and "Go India, go back" fought with government forces after taking to the streets of the main city Srinagar. 

Police fired live rounds as well as tear gas and water cannon to try to disperse the protesters as shoppers fled the violence and retailers shut down for the day.

The clashes broke out as colleges in the city reopened following skirmishes last week between students and Indian police.

A few students were detained. Three photojournalists and eight policemen were injured with stones — Anonymous police officer

The clashes broke out as colleges in the city reopened following skirmishes last week between students and Indian police [AFP]

Anger over rights violation

Nearly 100 students and around the same number of police were wounded in last week's disturbances, which prompted authorities to temporarily shut down schools and universities.

India-administered Kashmir has been tense since April 9, when eight people were killed by police and paramilitaries during election day violence. The election witnessed a record poor turnout. 

On Monday, the embattled chief minister of the restive region Mehbooba Mufti called for dialogue on Kashmir dispute and an end to the violence.

The first priority is to control the situation, because talks cannot take place amid bullets and stone-pelting — Mehbooba Mufti

Mufti's People's Democratic Party (or PDP) formed a governing alliance with Hindu far-right Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) after a 2015 election in the region. That has made her party hugely unpopular in the mainly Muslim Kashmir Valley. 

Human rights violations in the recent years including a footage showing a civilian tied to the front of an army jeep to deter protesters from throwing stones at the vehicle has also caused outrage in the region.

No let up since 2016

Anti-India sentiment runs deep in the valley, where most people favour independence or a merger with predominantly Muslim Pakistan.

Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since the end of British rule in 1947 and both claim the territory in its entirety.

Several rebel groups have for decades been fighting over half a million Indian troops and police stationed on the Indian-controlled portion of the divided region.

​Police say dozens of local youths have joined the rebel ranks since 2016 when Indian soldiers killed a popular rebel leader Burhan Wani sparking widespread uprising against Indian rule.