Cops use tear gas, pellet guns on Kashmiris

Security personnel standing guard in Srinagar, which is on lockdown following India's move to strip Kashmir of its autonomy on August 5. – AFP pic, August 16, 2019.

HUNDREDS of protesters in India-administered Kashmir today clashed with police, who responded with tear gas and pellet-firing shotguns, said an AFP reporter at the scene.

The fighting broke out after several thousand people rallied in the main city of Srinagar, where a security lockdown entered its 12th day following New Delhi’s move to strip Kashmir of its autonomy.

No injuries were reported.

The protesters rallied in the Srinagar locality of Soura, which has witnessed regular rallies since New Delhi announced its surprise move on August 5.

Police attempted to disperse hundreds of protesters who tried to march down the main road. The demonstrators hurled stones and used tin sheets as improvised shields as officers shot dozens of rounds into the crowd.

A drone kept vigil over the area as thousands of men and women gathered inside a popular shrine.

“We are trying to breach the siege and march to the city centre, but police are using force to stop us,” one protester told AFP, adding that three people were injured in clashes with police officers and reservists yesterday.

Sporadic unrest was also reported in other parts of the Kashmir Valley, the main hotbed of resistance to Indian rule for decades, where communications have been cut off for nearly two weeks.

Major towns and cities in the valley remain under curfew, with government forces allowing people to move only on special passes.

“We want what is ours. We are not begging for anything, but demanding that India respect its promises,” another protester told AFP.

“We will not sit back until we achieve complete independence from India.” – AFP, August 16, 2019.

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