Kashmir teenager's death sparks fresh anti-India protests

SRINAGAR: At least 30 people were injured in Indian-controlled Kashmir on Saturday after government forces fired shotgun pellets and tear gas as a funeral procession for a teenager turned into a protest against Indian rule.

Police and paramilitary soldiers intercepted the mourners carrying the body of the teenage boy who his family alleges died of police torture in Srinagar, the main city of the disputed region.

Witnesses said hundreds of young men participating in the funeral hurled rocks at the troops as tear gas shells exploded near the boy's coffin, while another group of mourners changed route to bury him.

Government forces fired pellets, warning shots and tear gas, fearing the procession could become a larger rally seeking an end of Indian rule in the Himalayan region, said a police officer, speaking on condition of anonymity in keeping with department policy.

The injured, including two women, were hospitalised as clashes erupted at several entry points at Srinagar's main Martyr's Graveyard.

The boy died in a hospital overnight after he was found unconscious a day after he went missing on Oct. 27.

His family said he was tortured and poisoned by the police. Police denied it, saying the boy had consumed poison on his own.

Kashmir is experiencing its largest protests against Indian rule in recent years, sparked by the killing in July of a popular rebel commander. The protests, separatist-sponsored strikes and a sweeping military crackdown have all but paralysed life in the region.

At least 90 civilians have been killed and thousands injured, with hundreds among them blinded and maimed, mostly by government forces firing bullets and pellets at rock-throwing protesters.

Two policemen have also been killed and hundreds of government forces injured in the clashes.

Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan, but claimed by both in its entirety. Most people in the Indian-controlled portion favour independence or a merger with Pakistan.

A militant uprising and subsequent Indian military crackdown since 1989 have killed more than 68,000 people.