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Indian Kashmir lockdown extended after separatist leader Geelani's death

Published: Updated:

Thousands of Indian security forces maintained a lockdown across Kashmir on Friday after the death of a separatist political leader sparked clashes with protesters.

The death of Syed Ali Geelani at the age of 92 heightened tensions in the disputed Himalayan territory after authorities refused to let him have a public funeral.

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Authorities said an internet and mobile phone shutdown ordered after the separatist icon died late Wednesday would continue and tight security was expected around Friday prayers in the main city of Srinagar.

Many mosques in the Muslim-majority region have announced that they would say special prayers for Geelani.

A paramilitary trooper patrols a street as commuters watch in the downtown area of Srinagar on September 3, 2021, as thousands of Indian security forces maintained a lockdown across Kashmir after the death of a separatist political leader sparked clashes with protesters. (AFP)
A paramilitary trooper patrols a street as commuters watch in the downtown area of Srinagar on September 3, 2021, as thousands of Indian security forces maintained a lockdown across Kashmir after the death of a separatist political leader sparked clashes with protesters. (AFP)

Thousands of police and troops manned barricades and patrolled streets to keep people indoors following clashes between residents and government forces in Srinagar late Thursday.

Police fired tear gas to disperse stone-throwing protesters but no injuries were reported.

Wearing flak jackets and riot gear, armed police and paramilitary soldiers patrolled streets in Srinagar, the region’s main city, and ordered residents to stay indoors.

Razor wire, steel barricades and perpendicularly parked armored vehicles blocked streets and roads in the city as officials anticipated anti-India protests after weekly congregational Friday prayers.

Geelani's son accused police of taking his father's body away to be buried in the middle of the night, hours after his death.

The family said no relatives were allowed at the burial but police rejected the allegations as “false propaganda.”

A video widely shared on social media showed police in a scuffle with Geelani's relatives before taking away his body that was wrapped in a Pakistani flag.

Geelani, who had spent much of the past five decades in jail or under house arrest, had infuriated successive Indian governments with his pro-Pakistan stance and demands for a self-determination vote.

The nuclear-armed neighbors have disputed the region since their independence in 1947 and have fought two wars over Kashmir.

Pakistan observed a day of official mourning for Geelani on Thursday and condemned Geelani’s non-public burial.

Tensions flared in the region in 2019 after New Delhi stripped Kashmir’s semi-autonomy, scrapped its statehood and removed inherited protections on land and jobs. New Delhi at that time imposed a similar internet shutdown and other restrictions for nearly a year.

Authorities have since brought a slew of new laws, which many critics and Kashmiris liken to the beginning of settler colonialism.

An insurgency against Indian rule erupted in 1989 and has left tens of thousands of dead. Security forces still fight near daily gun battles with separatist militants.

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