Over 40 people were injured when the police fired teargas shells and live bullets to stop a march by thousands of protesters from neighbouring villages to Shopian, 50 km south of Srinagar.
The firing took place at Sofarnaman, 3 km outside Shopian town, eight days after the recovery of the bodies of two women, Nelofar (23) and her sister-in-law Asiya (17), next to a canal on May 30.
The march was called by hard line separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani (79), in protest against the alleged rape and murder of the two women, who had gone missing on the evening of May 29 when they were returning from their orchard in Digam, 3 km west of the town.
Relatives of the deceased have alleged that security forces were involved in the rape and murder of the two women. As the police and CRPF personnel tried to break up a group of over 10,000 marchers at one spot in Sofarnaman by firing at them, four marchers were injured, three of them critically.
The police also fired hundreds of teargas shells in Shirmal, Pinjora, Narwav, Ratnipora, Vihal and a dozen other places across the town, to thwart the marchers.
Hundreds of police and CRPF men had laid siege to the town, plugging all entry and exit points.
Residents who could be reached over the telephone said the town was under a strict curfew. Barbed-wire barricades were raised on the roads leading to Shopian.
Curfew-like restrictions were also imposed in neighbouring town of Pulwama.
In Srinagar, the state capital, the authorities imposed restrictions on people’s movements. Over a dozen other separatist leaders including Shabir Shah, Ashraf Sahrai, Naeem Khan and Nanha Ji Saleem too have also been taken into custody.