Indian authorities were struggling Monday to contain protests by Kashmiris angry after 20 people were killed in weekend demonstrations, as youths defied a curfew to rally in the streets against the killing a top anti-India rebel leader. Troops and police in riot gear patrolled villages and towns in the Himalayan region. Most shops were shuttered, businesses were closed and cellphone services were suspended. But by noon Monday, crowds were ignoring the clampdown to gather in parts of the main city of Srinagar and other towns.
What do they want us to do? They label us as a threat to peace and cage, confine and gag us.
Moderate Hurriyat chief Mirwaiz Umer Farooq
The region erupted in protests on Saturday, a day after Indian troops killed Burhan Wani, the young leader of Kashmir’s largest rebel group, Hizbul Mujahideen, which has been fighting since the 1990s against Indian rule. Wani, in his early 20s, had become the iconic face of Kashmir’s militancy, using social media to rally supporters and reach out to other youths like him who had grown up amid hundreds of thousands of Indian armed forces deployed across the region. Police Inspector-General Syed Javaid Mujtaba Gillani described Wani’s killing as the “biggest success against militants” in recent years. As news of his death spread, crowds of angry youths gathered to throw rocks at Indian police and paramilitary soldiers and shout “Go India, go back!”