Kashmir shuts down to honor those dead in protests
SRINAGAR, India (AP) — Kashmir's separatist leaders called a general strike Saturday in the disputed Himalayan region to honor those killed in three summers of anti-India protests.
Most shops, businesses and schools were closed Saturday while public transportation was not running in the main city of Srinagar. Armed police and paramilitary officers patrolled the city's streets.
Police say separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani called for the strike after being placed under house arrest on Thursday to prevent him from leading any demonstrations against Indian rule.
Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan and claimed by both in its entirety. However, discontent with India's heavy-handed rule has fueled street protests by hundreds of thousands of rock-throwing youths. About 180 people have been killed in three years of India cracking down on protesters.
The violence has tented to escalate in the warmer summer months and ended with the cold of winter.
"People in Europe and other countries also vent their anger by hurling stones, eggs and tomatoes, but they are not showered with bullets in response," Geelani said in a statement Friday. "India has enforced the law of the jungle."
More than 68,000 people, most of them civilians, have been killed since 1989 when the separatist rebels began a campaign of violence and attacks to press for either independence from India or a merger with neighboring Pakistan.
The armed rebellion has largely been suppressed by Indian forces, and resistance is now shown mainly in street demonstrations.