Four people were
killed and 70 injured when crowds led by Muslim separatist activists defied a
curfew and clashed with security forces in India-administered Kashmir on
Monday, officials said, dpa reported.
Police earlier arrested three prominent separatist leaders, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and Yasin Malik, to foil a major anti-India rally called by them in state capital's Srinagar Lal Chowk area.
Violence erupted in various areas of Srinagar as activists violated curfew orders and tried to march to Lal Chowk, in the latest protest action by separatists demanding an end to Indian rule.
Two demonstrators were killed and 11 injured when Indian security forces opened fire to contain stone-pelting protestors in the Narbal area on the outskirts of Srinagar.
Protests were reported from other areas in Srinagar as local residents and activists tried to march toward the Lal Chowk area in violation of the curfew.
"Two protestors including an 18-year old girl were killed in the Pulwama and Bandipora areas in police firing," an administration official who requested anonymity said.
"In one incident, police were forced to open fire since protestors had taken a senior official hostage," he added.
Police sources said at least 70 people, including some policemen, were injured in similar clashes in other areas in the Muslim-dominated Kashmir Valley.
Troops enforced the curfew in Srinagar as authorities mounted unprecedented security arrangements to thwart the planned march.
The Lal Chowk area resembled a fortress as it came under heavy security cover, with hundreds of police deployed in the area to break up any protests.
Five people have been killed and more than 100 injured since a curfew was imposed in all 10 districts in the valley Sunday to thwart the march by separatists.
Daily life in the region has been disrupted by the strike by the separatists, with shops, banks, schools and most government offices closed.
The unrest, the most widespread in the region in over a decade, has seen clashes between protestors and security forces in the Kashmir valley that led to the deaths of 23 people over the past two weeks.
The protests triggered by a row over the allocation of government land to a Hindu cave shrine called Amarnath have taken an anti-Indian turn in the Kashmir Valley and led to a deep communal division in the Jammu region in the south, which has a large Hindu population.
While the Hindu groups in Jammu region have been holding protests to demand land be given to the Hindu shrine, the Muslims in the north have been protesting against it.
The disputed Kashmir region is divided into two parts - one administered by India and the other by Pakistan. The South Asian neighbours have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir.
While a section of Kashmiri separatists wants to join Pakistan, another wants independence for India-administered Kashmir.
"We will fight for self-determination for the region. It is no longer a matter of land for the Amarnath cave shrine," Shabbir Shah, a prominent separatist leader who has gone underground to evade arrest, told the Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.
"The agitation will gather momentum and people will take to the streets in large numbers whenever the curfew is lifted," he added.