SRINAGAR, India (AP) — The mysterious killing of three young men in conflict-wracked Kashmir prompted separatists fighting against Indian rule to call a general strike Wednesday in the Himalayan region.
Indian government forces were patrolling largely deserted streets in the region’s main city of Srinagar, where businesses, shops and schools were closed.
Villagers on Monday discovered the bullet-riddled bodies of the three local men bearing torture marks in an orchard in Pattan, north of Srinagar. It was not immediately clear what had happened, and police and anti-India separatists blamed each other for the deaths.
Since then, anti-India protests and clashes with police have erupted in the territory, which is divided with neighboring Pakistan but claimed by both countries entirely.
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Kashmir’s biggest rebel group, Hizbul Mujahideen, said the men were its cadres and accused the police counterinsurgency force of torturing and later killing them in custody.
Police said, however, that the men belonged to a breakaway unit of the militant organization and were killed in clashes between the groups.
“We’re not involved in the killings. Police are investigating the matter,” Inspector-General Syed Javaid Mujtaba Gillani said.
Most people in the India-controlled portion mistrust Indian rule, and more than 68,000 people have died in a militant uprising that started in 1989 and military crackdown.
The armed rebellion has largely been suppressed, and most public resistance is expressed in street protests.