People have staged a strike in Indian-controlled Kashmir, parts of which remain under curfew, a day after deadly anti-New Delhi protests and clashes between the army and pro-independence militants.
Most of Indian-administered Kashmir was shuttered on Monday due to the Indian army’s clampdown and the pubic strike.
Shops and businesses remained closed as the region’s main city of Srinagar was placed under curfew and Indian security forces dressed in riot gear fanned out across Kashmir in anticipation of anti-India protests.
The general strike was called by Kashmir’s pro-independence leaders in protest at the killing of at least 20 people during fierce gun battles between Indian forces and suspected separatist militants.
Anti-India sentiment runs high and deep among the Muslim-dominant population of Kashmir.
In recent years, the people of Kashmir have been faced with a massive crackdown by hundreds of thousands of Indian military and paramilitary troops deployed to the region to stifle dissent.
In a show of solidarity with the people of Kashmir, Pakistani officials have condemned the recent violence and “inhuman” crackdown on the people.
At least 20 people have been killed in Indian-controlled Kashmir.
“India via its inhuman tactics cannot suppress the voice of Kashmiris and their legitimate struggle for right to self-determination,” Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was quoted as saying on Monday.
He emphasized that Indian aggression in occupied Kashmir cannot silence the voice of dissent among Kashmiris, according to Pakistani Daily Times website.
The same source said Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif also condemned the recent violence.
“Kashmir has been bathed in blood,” he said. “Indian occupation forces martyred 20 Kashmiris, injured 300 and destroyed over 5 houses and still counting. Worst day of state terrorism in Kashmir valley,” he added in a tweet as quoted by the Daily Time.
Indian officials, for their part, blame Pakistan for the violence, claiming Islamabad is inciting anti-India sentiment, and training and arming militants in Kashmir.
The Himalayan region is divided between India and Pakistan. Most Kashmiris on the Indian side want either independence or a merger with Pakistan.
The two neighbors claim Kashmir in its entirety and have fought three wars over the region.
Despite a ceasefire agreement that was reached between India and Pakistan in November 2003, sporadic skirmishes continue in Kashmir. Armed battles between Indian forces and militants over the years have killed nearly 70,000 people, mostly civilians.