Teen funeral turns into protest in Indian Kashmir
Fresh scuffles have broken out in Indian-controlled Kashmir between government forces and mourners who had turned out for the funeral of a teenage boy allegedly slain in police custody.
The clashes erupted at several entry points into Martyr’s Graveyard in Srinagar on Saturday, leaving at least 30 people wounded. The injured, including two women, were taken to hospital.
The confrontation came after police and paramilitary soldiers fired shotgun pellets and tear gas at those attending the funeral procession. Some young men also hurled rocks at Indian troops.
A police officer, who was speaking on condition of anonymity, claimed that the firing was triggered by a fear that the funeral could become a larger rally.
Government forces also intercepted mourners carrying the body of 16-year-old Qaiser Sofi, who died in a hospital in Srinagar overnight. The student of the Mirak Shah School was found unconscious on October 28, one day after he went missing.
Sofi’s family said their son was tortured and poisoned by the police. However, the police denied the accusation and said the victim consumed poison himself.
Indian-controlled Kashmir is experiencing its largest demonstrations against Indian rule in recent years, sparked by the killing of a top figure in the pro-independence Hizb-ul-Mujahideen group.
Burhan Wani was killed in a shootout with Indian troops in Kokernag area in July.
Since then, at least 90 people, most of them young protesters, have been killed in the Kashmir clashes and thousands injured, among them hundreds blinded and maimed.
The demonstrations, industrial actions and a sweeping military crackdown have all but paralyzed life in the Himalayan region.
Kashmir lies at the heart of a bitter territorial dispute since India and Pakistan became independent in 1947. New Delhi and Islamabad both claim the region in full, but rule parts of it.