Indian authorities extended a curfew to more areas of Kashmir and deployed additional forces after three youths were killed in police firing yesterday during clashes with protesters.
Restrictions were imposed in some towns in south Kashmir, where the three died, Farooq Ahmad, inspector general of police for the Kashmir region, said by phone. “The situation today is under control,” he said. Clampdowns were maintained in parts of the summer capital, Srinagar, and Baramulla to the west, Press Trust of India reported.
Indian-controlled Kashmir has been roiled by protests and shutdowns triggered by the deaths of 11 people in less than three weeks, killings blamed on the security forces. Pro- independence demonstrators across the disputed territory have defied curfews and pelted government forces with stones. Police have opened fire and used tear gas to disperse crowds.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called a meeting of senior officials this evening to discuss the situation, Press Trust reported.
The Kashmir region, divided between India and Pakistan since shortly after independence in 1947 and claimed in full by both, is at the heart of the dispute between the nuclear-armed neighbors and was the cause of two of three wars.
An anti-India insurgency erupted in the Kashmir in 1989 with militants fighting either for independence or union with neighboring Pakistan. Violence levels have now fallen. India has long accused Pakistan of supporting guerrillas targeting Jammu and Kashmir, its only Muslim-dominated state. Pakistan says it offers only moral support to separatists groups.
“There are reliable reports that anti-national elements are trying to exploit the situation,” Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram said in a statement yesterday in New Delhi. “Some militants may also have sneaked into the valley to trigger violence.”
The federal government will support the Jammu and Kashmir government in its efforts to end the violence, Chidambaram said, adding security forces have been instructed to use “maximum restraint” while dealing with rioters and youths throwing stones.