A curfew and strikes led to a standstill in all major towns in India’s Jammu and Kashmir state Friday, a day after paramilitary border police shot dead four people during a protest.
Separatist groups called for a protest strike across the region, and state authorities clamped a dawn-to-dusk curfew on several towns and five districts of the state, fearing violence after Thursday’s gunfire in Gool village, 230 kilometres south of the state capital Srinagar.
People defied the curfew to hold demonstrations in Srinagar and nearby Ganderbal, police said.
Schools, colleges, offices and shops were closed in several cities, including Srinagar.
The incident in Gool, which also injured more than 20 people, occurred after protesters from the village gathered in front of a Border Security Force camp to complain about what they said were shots fired at a mosque that led to injuries. The police initially put Thursday’s death toll as six but later revised it.
Traffic authorities for the second day closed the Jammu-Srinagar highway, the key route for people and provisions to enter the Kashmir Valley, as a precautionary measure.
“The situation is under control, largely peaceful, but there have been protests in some areas,” said Rajesh Kumar, the inspector general of police in the Jammu zone.
India has maintained a large troop presence in Jammu and Kashmir since a secessionist insurgency broke out in the 1980s in the majority-Muslim state.
The rebellion has led to the deaths of more than 45,000 civilians, security forces and militants in the disputed region, claimed by both India and neighbouring Pakistan.
Indian paramilitary troops Thursday shot dead six people protesting outside a Border Security Force station in Kashmir, two police officers said.
The incident happened in Gool, 230 kilometres (143 miles) south of the main city of Srinagar, the officers said on condition of anonymity.
“It is mayhem. Six are dead and dozens injured. The death toll could rise further,” said one.
The troops had entered the mosque in Gool to complain about the loud recitation of prayers by worshippers during the holy month of Ramadan, the witnesses said.
Worshippers gathered outside the security force station from early Thursday to protest at the incident.
“The BSF soldiers fired indiscriminately, downing protesters left, right and centre,” one witness who declined to be identified told AFP by phone from the nearby village of Dharam.