Paramilitary soldiers in an armored vehicle shot at rock-throwing demonstrators, wounding two young men in the Chanapora neighborhood in Srinagar, the disputed region’s main city, said a police officer on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak with the media.
One of the wounded was in critical condition in a hospital.
The officer said the protesters began marching on the main road in Chanapora on Friday morning after separatists called for a protest march to Srinagar’s central Maisuma district.
Local residents, however, said the injured men were not part of the demonstration, and soldiers shot them near their homes.
As the news of shooting spread, thousands of residents in the city took to the streets chanting, “Go, India! Go back” and “We want freedom!”
Police and paramilitary soldiers fired tear gas to quell the protests, prompting further clashes, the officer said.
The mostly Muslim region, where resistance to occupation by predominantly Hindu India is strong, has been under curfew for most part of the last six weeks as anti-India street demonstrations and clashes surged. Residents say government forces have killed at least 17 people in that period, and local authorities asked two retired judges to investigate the deaths.
The recent tension in the Himalayan region — divided between India and Pakistan and claimed by both — is reminiscent of the late 1980s, when protests against New Delhi’s rule sparked an armed conflict. More than 68,000 people have been killed, mostly civilians, in the conflict.
Meanwhile shops, businesses and schools remained shut in Kashmir, and thousands of armed police and paramilitary soldiers patrolled largely deserted streets.
In most parts of Srinagar, government troops asked people to stay indoors to prevent protests against Indian rule.
Separatists have told people to observe strikes to protest Indian rule for five days this week, excluding Tuesday and Saturday to allow people to stock up on food and other essentials.
Separatist politicians and militants reject Indian sovereignty over Kashmir and want to carve out a separate homeland or merge with predominantly Muslim Pakistan.