Teen's death in Indian Kashmir mob attack sets off protests

SRINAGAR: A general strike and curfew shut Indian-controlled Kashmir on Monday following the death of a Muslim teenager attacked by a Hindu mob over rumors of cows being slaughtered.

Hindus consider cows to be sacred, and slaughtering the animals is banned in most Indian states.

Businesses, schools and shops remained due to the strike called by anti-India separatists and traders to denounce the killing.

Thousands of people who attended Zahid Rasool's funeral in Botengo village in southern Kashmir shouted anti-Indian slogans demanding freedom from Indian rule.

Rasool and another truck driver were set ablaze by a mob after their vehicle stopped in the Hindu-dominated Udhampur neighborhood. A third person in the truck escaped unhurt. The injured were flown to New Delhi for treatment, but Rasool died from his burns on Sunday.

Police officer Danish Rana said nine people have been arrested in connection with Rasool's death.

Authorities laid razor wire across the main crossings and declared curfew in parts of Kashmir's capital city, Srinagar, and in nearby Anantnag town to stop protests and clashes.

"Go India, go back" and "We want freedom," the crowd shouted at Rasool's funeral. Clashes also erupted in Botengo village as security forces fired tear gas to stop rock-throwing protesters from marching to the nearby main highway.

Differences have deepened within Kashmir's ruling coalition, with the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party demanding a ban on slaughtering cows and selling beef in the Muslim-majority state.

A colonial-era law banned cow slaughter in Kashmir, but no one paid heed to it until a local court ordered its strict enforcement recently.

Muslims resented the order and later India's Supreme Court suspended it for two months.

Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a Hindu nationalist, took office last year, hard-line Hindus have been demanding that India ban beef sales. Most beef sold across India is buffalo meat.

There has been outrage across India after a 50-year-old Muslim man was beaten to death by a mob last month over rumors that his family had eaten beef for dinner.