Large crowds of demonstrators have held a massive protest rally in the Indian-administered Kashmir in response to a New Delhi plan to build new townships across the disputed region.
Kashmiri protesters rallied in Srinagar after Friday prayers to voice opposition to a government plan to build new townships for thousands of Hindus in the Muslim-majority region.
The angry protesters chanted pro-independence slogans as they marched toward the city center, Lalchowk, in Srinagar, the main city in Indian-controlled Kashmir.
Srinagar, which lies in the Kashmir Valley, is the summer capital and largest city of the northern Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Its winter capital is Jammu.
Indian police and paramilitary troops fired teargas and used stun grenades to disperse the crowd. The security forces also arrested nearly a dozen activists, including some prominent regional protest leaders.
The protesters pelted Indian security forces with stones and blocked roads in the region.
The massive rally comes as New Delhi has announced plans to build a number of townships to accommodate some 200,000 Hindus.
Kashmiri leaders have called the plan a conspiracy to create settlements on religious lines, saying the plan will create hatred between Hindus and Muslims.
Mohammed Yasin Malik, the chairman of the pro-independence Jammu-Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) compared the plan to that of Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land. Malik suggested that they would rather live side by side the Hindus in a merged society.
"We will not allow anybody to turn Kashmir into another Palestine. They (Pandits) are owners of this land as we are, and we welcome them to live in a composite society along with their Muslim brothers," media outlet quoted Malik as saying.
Indian authorities have deployed large contingents of police and paramilitary troops to most parts of Srinagar and several other major towns to prevent street demonstrations.
Kashmir lies at the heart of more than 67 years of hostility between India and Pakistan. Both neighbors claim the region in full but have partial control over it.
The neighbors agreed on a ceasefire in 2003, and launched a peace process the following year. Since then, there have been sporadic clashes, with both sides accusing the other of violating the ceasefire.
Thousands of people have been killed in Kashmir unrest over the past two decades.