SRINAGAR: Thousands of angry demonstrators defied a curfew on Saturday in India-held Kashmir to attend the funeral of a schoolboy whose body was found riddled with pellets, sparking clashes with security forces across the restive region.

The 11-year-old Nasir Shafi’s body was found late on Friday on the outskirts of Srinagar, in Harwan, after security personnel used pellet guns to break up protesting crowds despite the government vowing to replace the weapons. The region has been hit by months of violent protests over the killing in July of a young militant by Indian soldiers.

Government forces fired tear gas shells on Saturday to disperse stone-throwing protesters, triggering more clashes in at least half a dozen places across Srinagar and southern parts of the valley.

“Forces responded when large crowds defied restrictions. Many were injured on both sides during the clashes that followed,” a police officer told AFP.

Another police official said nearly 100 people, mostly protesters, had been injured in the latest protests.

The killing of the schoolboy took the death toll to 81 in the worst violence to hit the territory since 2010. The government has been coming under growing pressure over the level of casualties in Kashmir during the protests against Indian rule.

Most have died in clashes between protesters and government forces which have fired tear gas and pellet guns at demonstrators.

Published in Dawn, September 18th, 2016

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