SRINAGAR, India Protesters threw rocks in Indian-controlled Kashmir, and shops, schools and roads were near-empty Saturday after political parties called a strike to protest the alleged mistreatment of political prisoners in Indian jails.
At least 100 protesters converged in the main street near a mosque in Srinagar, the main city in Indian Kashmir, chanting "we want freedom" and "release the detainees."
The demonstrators threw rocks at police and paramilitary forces who tried to prevent them from marching. Police fired tear gas after failing to disperse the crowd with bamboo sticks, a police officer said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to news media.
At least three protesters and two policemen were injured, the officer said, adding five protesters were detained.
Activists claim more than 1,400 Kashmiris are languishing in Indian jails, where prisoners are allegedly tortured and kept without trial.
Indian officials deny the allegations and maintain that they investigate all complaints of abuse or excessive use of force by army or police personnel.
The strike, which kept most traffic off the roads and shuttered businesses in Srinagar, was called by Syed Ali Shah Geelani, head of the hard-line faction of All Parties Hurriyat Conference, an alliance of nonviolent separatist groups, most of which seek a merger with Pakistan.
The strike was supported by the United Jehad Council, an alliance of rebel groups fighting for independence and a lawyers association.
Both nonviolent and rebel separatist groups have wide support among Kashmiris, who often accuse the Indian government of human rights violations.
Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan, but claimed by both, and the two countries have fought two wars over the territory since they gained independence from Britain in 1947.
More than a dozen militant groups have been fighting government forces since 1989 seeking independence from Hindu-majority India or its merger with Muslim Pakistan.
At least 68,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in the conflict.