With a gathering of people in Kupwara district clashing with the police and the security forces, forcing the authorities to enforce an undeclared curfew, senior Kashmiri separatist leaders — Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq — on Tuesday demanded an “independent investigation” into the death of the seven purported militants in a shootout.

Both the senior Hurriyat leaders said in separate statements that the seven young men needed to be identified by an “independent and time-bound investigation.” Even in the past, the security forces had claimed to have conducted genuine encounters in Pathribal, Brakpora, Ganderbal and Machhil. But all the four and many others were “fake encounters” in which innocent civilians had been killed and labelled as militants.

Mr. Geelani called for complete shutdown in Kashmir on February 28 and stressed on a probe by “an independent foreign agency.” The Mirwaiz too demanded similar investigation but he did not insist on the engagement of a foreign agency.

In the Sogam area of the Lolab valley, around 3,000 people gathered and shouted slogans for independence. They demanded the custody of the bodies for “proper identification” and their burial as per the Islamic rites.

As the authorities did not respond for over three hours, the gathering turned violent and clashed with the police. Over a dozen demonstrators, policemen and some photojournalists sustained injuries.

Later, all the seven bodies were handed over to the local representatives who conducted their funeral smoothly.