SRINAGAR: Indian police fired shots in the air and used teargas to disperse hundreds of protesters in Kashmir on Wednesday. The protesters took to streets after the prayers marking the Muslim festival of Eidul Azha.
Police took action after hundreds emerged from mosques and held noisy anti-India demonstrations in Srinagar, the main city in the region, chanting “Go India! Go back!” and “We want freedom!”, witnesses said.
The protesters retaliated by hurling stones at the police.
In the southern district of Anantnag, a similar clash occurred after police prevented worshippers from taking part in a rally to protest against Indian rule in the Muslim-majority region, resident Ghulam Hassan told AFP by telephone.
The Eidul Azha holiday is being celebrated in a low-key manner in Indian-administered Kashmir after months of curfews and violent clashes between anti-India protesters and the security forces. A total 111 people have died since June.
Authorities deployed thousands of troops in Srinagar to prevent a repeat of massive protests that hit the city two months ago on the Muslim holiday of Eidul Fitr that marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramazan.
The commercial Lal Chowk area, where protesters hoisted Islamic and Pakistani flags during the last holiday, was sealed with barbed wire.
Key separatists Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Shabbir Shah were placed under house arrest, police said.
India has an estimated 500,000 troops in Kashmir, which is split into Indian- and Pakistani-administered parts. There has been a separatist insurgency in the Indian zone for 20 years.
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