Police shot dead at least 13 people on Monday in anti-government demonstrations across Indian occupied Kashmir in the biggest single death toll from protests in the disputed region in years.
The toll includes nine people killed in police clashes after protesters set fire to a Christian missionary school and government buildings in two districts to denounce reports that copies of the Holy Quraan had been damaged in the United States.
One policeman was also killed by stone-throwing protesters defying a curfew in the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley.
Protesters, many wearing green headbands, shouted “There is no God but Allah” and “Death to America”. Witnesses said crowds in Budgam burned an effigy of US President Barack Obama.
Kashmir has seen mass rallies against Indian rule in the last three months and at least 70 protesters had been killed by police.
A new generation of young Kashmiris, who have grown up with house raids, police killings and army checkpoints, feel increasingly angry at Indian rule and champion street protests rather than the violent militancy that characterised the 1990s.
The protests unfolded as Indian authorities extended a curfew on Monday in most of occupied Kashmir, deployed thousands of troops to quell protests and prevented a planned march by separatists to a UN office in the region’s biggest city.
In a sign of increasing concern in New Delhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made a rare public statement on Kashmir, although a cabinet meeting failed to come up with any public decision.