SRINAGAR – Occupational forces shot dead three stone-throwing protesters including a 16-year-old girl in Indian-administered Kashmir on Saturday, as tensions rose ahead of the anniversary of the death of a popular rebel commander.
Hundreds of people were demonstrating peacefully in the southern Kashmiri district of Kulgam following an army search operation for suspected militants.
As the clashes intensified, the police and troops resorted to indiscriminate firing of bullets, pellets and teargas shells on the protesters resulting in the killing of three people and injuring of several others, according to the Kashmir Media Service.
The martyred civilians have been identified as Shakir Ahmed Khanday (22), Irshad Majeed (20) and a girl Andleeb (16).
— Madiha Khan (@ShakilMadiha) July 7, 2018
The killings come a day before the eve of the second anniversary of the death of Burhan Wani, a charismatic 22-year-old rebel killed by government forces two years ago on July 8.
Separatist leaders have called for a shutdown on Sunday to commemorate the slain militant.
Wani’s killing has triggered a sustained wave of violent protests that have so far claimed the lives of at least 100 civilians, with last year the deadliest in the region for the past decade.
Thousands of others were injured by shotgun pellets fired by the Indian army.
Kashmir has been divided since the end of British colonial rule in 1947 but both New Delhi and Islamabad claim the former Himalayan kingdom in full.
India has about 500,000 soldiers in the part of Kashmir it controls, where armed groups are fighting for independence or a merger with Pakistan.
Last month, the UN human rights chief released a report, calling for an investigation into alleged abuses perpetrated by Indian security forces in Kashmir.
India rejected the report, blasting it as “fallacious” and “tendentious”.