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Separatist unrest, violence sparks curfew in Kashmir

From Mukhtar Ahmad, For CNN
A cow stands in a deserted street in Srinagar on September 12, 2010, as authorities imposed an indefinite curfew.
A cow stands in a deserted street in Srinagar on September 12, 2010, as authorities imposed an indefinite curfew.
  • Muslim-majority Kashmir is claimed by India and Pakistan
  • India administers Kashmir and deployed thousands of troops there in the 1980s
  • Separatist groups have launched a campaign and protests against Indian rule
  • Unrest has claimed 71 lives since June

Srinagar, India (CNN) -- A round-the-clock curfew continued Monday in the city of Srinagar -- capital of Indian-administered Kashmir -- and other major towns, two days after massive pro-independence rallies roiled Kashmir, which has been in the throes of separatist unrest since June 11.

The unrest has so far claimed 71 lives, with one more injured protester succumbing to injuries in a hospital in Srinagar Sunday.

Police said the 34-year-old man had received a gunshot wound and had been on life-support in the hospital.

Indian authorities early Sunday moved thousands of paramilitary troops and police across Srinagar and in other towns to enforce the strict curfew that saw a total lockdown of the curfew-affected areas.

Police jeeps equipped with loudspeakers were making rounds of various localities in Srinagar, announcing the curfew and warning residents to stay indoors.

No civilians were allowed to leave their homes, quelling the Eid festivities marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan in Muslim-majority Kashmir.

The restrictions were, however, defied by anti-India protesters who clashed with the security forces in the capital city and in other towns.

The security forces fired warning shots and tear gas, and resorted to repeated baton charges to quell the curfew-defying mobs in Srinagar.

A youth was injured after being hit by a tear gas canister and was evacuated to a hospital for treatment, police said.

Indian police opened fire at a group that attacked the house of a senior pro-India politician and educational minister in the local government in south Kashmir Damhal Khushipora village Sunday afternoon wounding two protesters, one of them critically.

The group threw projectiles at the heavily guarded ancestral house of the minister, Peerzada Mohammad Sayeed, and damaged its boundary wall and the gate at the entrance.

The minister, however, escaped unhurt in the attack, police said.

A school building was set on fire in north Kashmir while eight policemen were injured in protester-security force clashes in Baramulla town, police said.

Sunday's curfew came a day after a senior separatist leader led a march by thousands of people to the historic city center, Lal Chowk, where he asked New Delhi and Islamabad to start "a Kashmir centric dialogue to resolve the issue."

Violence erupted as the rally was dispersing. A government building housing various offices and a police post were set ablaze.

The government Sunday on filed charges against the separatist leader, Mirwaiz Moulvi Umar Farooq, for "inciting violence."

Mirwaiz, however, denied he had incited people.

The protests are part of a so-called "Quit Kashmir" campaign launched by separatist groups against Indian rule in Kashmir.

Muslim-majority Kashmir is claimed by both India and Pakistan. India deployed thousands of troops in Kashmir to guard against what Indian leaders believe was a Pakistan-backed insurgency that began in late 1980s.

That insurgency, which India says claimed more than 43,000 lives, is no longer raging but the troops have remained.