India-held Kashmir (IHK) authorities made serious efforts to manage protests by irate residents following the death of 22 people who were killed in weekend demonstrations as youths disregarded the curfew to rally in streets against the killing of top Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani.
The Hizbul Mujahideen chief of operations, Wani was killed in fighting on Friday after Indian troops, relying on a tip, barricaded a forested village in the Kokernag area, based on statements by Police Director-General K. Rajendra. Two other members of Wani’s group also died in the gun battle.
An indefinite curfew was imposed by Indian authorities in most parts of IHK following Wani’s death; however, major protests continue in spite of efforts to suppress the violence.
Villages and towns in the regions were monitored by paramilitary troops and police in riot gear. Most businesses had their doors closed, shops were shuttered and cellphone services were suspended.
By noon on Monday, however, crowds neglected the clampdown to gather in parts of the main city of Srinagar and other towns.
In his early 20s, Wani had become the face of militancy in Kashmir over the last five years. He was the son of a school headmaster and had regularly posted video messages online while dressed in military fatigues, soliciting young men to join the movement against the Indian rule.
With the news of Wani’s gaining publicity, mass numbers of angry youths gathered to throw rocks at Indian police and paramilitary soldiers and to shout “Go India, go back!”
According to claims made by the police, some paramilitary and police posts were attacked and some homes of pro-India politicians were burned.
About 19 civilians and a policeman were killed in clashes which occurred on Saturday and Sunday, as law enforcement officials made use of live ammunition, pellet guns and tear gas in efforts to scatter the protests. Police confirmed that most of the people killed were young men under the age of 26 from southern IHK.
Moreover, over 150 civilians and 90 government troops were injured in collisions with Indian troops. At least 10 of the injured civilians were in severe condition.
On Sunday, Pakistan denounced the “extra-judicial killing of Kashmiri leader Burhan Wani and scores of other innocent Kashmiris” describing such acts as a “violation of the fundamental human rights of Kashmiris”.