Protests in Kashmir have erupted following the death of rebel leader Burhan Wani. The 22-year old was the new-age poster boy for rebel movement Hizbul Mujahideen – a group fighting Indian control of the Muslim-majority region. He was shot dead by security forces on 8 July, along with two other militants in what has been described by one police officer as the "biggest success against militants" in recent years.

Yet there are thousands who do not agree. As news of Wani's death spread, crowds of angry demonstrators gathered to throw rocks at Indian police and paramilitary soldiers. On 9 July, one day after Wani was killed, Reuters reported that the angry crowds set fire to three police stations, along with two government buildings south of Srinagar. Roads were blocked and police resorted to using live pellet guns and tear gas to try to break up the protests.

Wani's death came amid a rise in violence and separatist sentiment across the state, which has been at the centre of a vigorous struggle between India and Pakistan for decades.

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Kashmiri protestors clash with Indian police in SrinagarTauseef Mustafa/ AFP
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A Kashmiri Muslim man walks past closed shops during a curfew in SrinagarTauseef Mustafa/ AFP
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An Indian paramilitary troop stands guard during a curfew in SrinagarTauseef Mustafa/ AFP

The violent protests saw authorities impose a round-the-clock curfew on most of the Kashmir valley. The curfew saw the streets silenced, shops close their shutters and cellphone and mobile internet services suspended in certain parts of the region. However, by midday on 11 July, the curfew was ignored and people began to gather in parts of the main city of Srinagar and other locations, with the confrontations continuing. Activists painted graffiti on shop walls, deploring India and praising Burhan Wani, writing 'Burhan still alive' and 'Go back India, go back'.

Since demonstrations began, 22 people have been killed and more than more than 200 injured – 10 of whom are in a critical condition. 21 of those who died are said to be civilians, the other a police officer. According to authorities, most of those who were killed were men under the age of 26, all from southern Kashmir.

Activists and separatist leaders have criticised the security forces' response to the protests, accusing them of using excessive force.

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Protestors clash with Indian police in SrinagarTauseef Mustafa/ AFP
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Pigeons fly as Indian policemen patrols during a curfew in downtown SrinagarTauseef Mustafa/ AFP
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An Indian policeman stands guard on a street during a curfew in Srinagar. More than twenty protesters were killed and 200 others injured in disputed Indian-administered Kashmir, after thousands defied a curfew following the death of a top rebel commander, Burhan Muzaffar Wani officials said
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An Indian policeman stands guard on a street during a curfew in Srinagar. More than twenty protesters were killed and 200 others injured in disputed Indian-administered Kashmir, after thousands defied a curfew following the death of a top rebel commander, Burhan Muzaffar Wani officials saidTauseef Mustafa/ AFP
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Mourners look on during the funeral of Burhan Muzaffar Wani in the restive Himalayan state of Jammu and KashmirTauseef Mustafa/ AFP
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A tyre burns on a national highway during a curfew in SrinagarTauseef Mustafa/ AFP
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People wave the Pakistani flag as they shout pro-freedom slogans during the funeral of Burhan Muzaffar WaniTauseef Mustafa/ AFP
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Pakistani Kashmiris burn the Indian flag during a protest against the killing of Burhan Muzaffar Wani in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-administered KashmirSajjad Qayyum/ AFP

Anti-India sentiment is strong throughout Kashmir, which has a population of 12 million people, roughly 70% of whom are Muslim. Many people resent the deployment of hundreds of thousands of Indian troops, and openly support rebels who have been fighting since the 1990s to demand independence or to merge with neighbouring Pakistan. Both India and Pakistan claim all of Kashmir as their own.

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An Indian policeman prepares barbed wire fencing on a street during a curfew in SrinagarTauseef Mustafa/ AFP
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A woman walks past a closed shop painted with graffiti during a curfew in SrinagarDanish Ismail/ Reuters
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People carry the body of Burhan Muzaffar Wani in the restive Himalayan state of Jammu and Kashmir, ahead of his funeral in Tral, his native townTauseef Mustafa/ AFP
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Kashmiri protestors clash with Indian police in SrinagarTauseef Mustafa/ AFP
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Indian policemen stand guard in front of closed shops during a curfew in SrinagarDanish Ismail/ Reuters
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Protesters clash with Indian police in SrinagarTauseef Mustafa/ AFP
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An Indian paramilitary trooper patrols during a curfew following the killing of a top Hizbul Mujahideen commander in SrinagarTauseef Mustafa/ AFP
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Kashmiri mourners look on near the body of Burhan Muzaffar Wani in the restive Himalayan state of Jammu and Kashmir, during his funeral in Tral, his native townTauseef Mustafa/ AFP
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An Indian policeman wearing riot gear patrols on a deserted road during a curfew in SrinagarDanish Ismail/ Reuters
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An Indian policeman stands guard on a street during a curfew in Srinagar