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India tightens curbs in Kashmir a day after separatist leader's burial

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By Reuters
India tightens curbs in Kashmir a day after separatist leader's burial
India tightens curbs in Kashmir a day after separatist leader's burial   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2021
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By Fayaz Bukhari

SRINAGAR, India – India tightened curbs on movement in Kashmir’s main city of Srinagar, with scores of armed soldiers fanning out ahead of prayers on Friday, a day after a veteran secessionist leader was laid to rest in the disputed Himalayan region.

Syed Ali Shah Geelani, 91, was buried near his home in the city, where soldiers patrolled the streets to forestall any large-scale protests and gatherings at mosques.

Public movements were restricted in the city and elsewhere in Kashmir, a government official said.

“More troops have been deployed in sensitive areas and more roads have been barricaded,” the official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

For a second day, communications were disrupted, with mobile networks and internet services in the Kashmir valley largely shut down.

For years, Geelani, one of Kashmir’s most senior political leaders, had led a hardline faction of separatist groups that sought to secede from India following an armed revolt against New Delhi.

Kashmir has long been a flashpoint between India and arch rival Pakistan, which claim the region in full but rule only parts.

Tension between the two nuclear-armed neighbours was renewed in August 2019, when New Delhi scrapped the autonomy of its state of Jammu and Kashmir, splitting it into two federally administered territories.

Shops were shut across parts of Srinagar, with many streets deserted and coils of barbed wire strung across them. Soldiers with assault rifles manned checkpoints.

Health worker Shakeel Ahmad said he had to navigate more barricades on Friday to get to his hospital than a day ago.

“I was stopped at around a dozen places,” he said.