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India tightens security in Kashmir after death of independence leader

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Kashmiri protesters pelt stones at Indian government forces amid tear gas during a clash in Srinagar, in Indian-administered Kashmir, on September 2, 2021, after Indian authorities imposed a lockdown across the disputed Himalayan region following the death of Kashmiri independence leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani. (Photo by AFP)

India has tightened restrictions on movement in the part of Kashmir that it administers to contain protests after the burial of a top independence leader.

Dozens of armed soldiers patrolled the streets of Kashmir's main city of Srinagar ahead of midday prayers on Friday as tensions ignited in the disputed Himalayan territory after Indian authorities refused to allow a public funeral for Syed Ali Shah Geelani.

Geelani died at the age of 91 on Wednesday night. He was buried near his home in the city.

An Indian government official said on Friday that public movements were restricted in Srinagar and elsewhere in Kashmir. "More troops have been deployed in sensitive areas and more roads have been barricaded," the official told Reuters anonymously.

Health worker Shakeel Ahmad said he had to navigate more checkpoints on Friday to reach his workplace than a day ago. "I was stopped at around a dozen places," he told Reuters.

Indian authorities have shut down mobile networks and internet services in Kashmir since Geelani died on Wednesday night. The shutdown continued on Friday and shops were closed across parts of Srinagar, with many streets deserted.

Geelani, who strove for the region's self-determination, had been in prison or under house arrest for much of the past five decades.

Kashmir has been split between India and Pakistan since their partition in 1947. Both countries claim all of Kashmir and have fought three wars over the territory.

The government of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi revoked the self-autonomy of Indian-controlled Kashmir in 2019, in a move described by Pakistan as illegal. Since then, India has imposed more internet shutdowns and other restrictions in the disputed Muslim-majority region.

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