Indian police shoot dead 15 during protests in Kashmir
|September 13, 2010
Police have shot dead 15 civilians in the deadliest day in Indian-administered Kashmir since protests erupted three months ago.
A policeman was also killed when he was run over by a lorry.
The BBC’s Altaf Hussain in Srinagar says reports of Koran desecration in the US have stoked anger.
Scores of Kashmiris have now died since June, when anti-India protests broke out after police shot dead a teenager.
In Monday’s protests, thousands of people defied curfews and took to the streets, chanting anti-India and anti-US slogans and burning effigies of US President Barack Obama, our correspondent says.
An angry mob set fire to several government buildings and a Protestant-run school, as well as attacking a police station, he adds.
Police fired live ammunition to break up the demonstrations, and confirmed that 15 civilians had been killed.
Several of the deaths were reported to have occurred in Budgam district, with others reported in the village of Tangmarg, where the school was burned.
One of those killed was a student aged 12 or 13, our correspondent says.
Meanwhile, a policeman died after he was run over by a lorry driven by demonstrators in the town of Humahama.
The attack on the missionary school was condemned by separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani – who has been put under house arrest by Indian authorities.
“I urge the Muslims to protect members of [the] minority community and their religious places. We should at any cost maintain the age-old communal harmony and brotherhood for which Kashmir is known the world over,” he said.
An indefinite curfew remains in place in Srinagar and other big towns in the region.
The measures were imposed after mass protests against Indian rule on Saturday again turned violent.
A plan by a Florida church to burn copies of the Koran during the 9/11 anniversary caused outrage across the Muslim world, but was eventually called off.
However, reports that pages had been torn from a Koran outside the White House over the weekend reignited the controversy and further heightened tensions in the Kashmir Valley.
Kashmir has been a flashpoint between India and Pakistan for more than 50 years.
Meanwhile, Indian officials will consider the partial lifting of 20-year-old laws that shield their forces from prosecution.
Human rights activists say the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, which also grants powerful search and seizure powers, is often misused by Indian police and paramilitaries.
The Cabinet Committee on Security will discuss on Monday what to do about the legislation, amid outcry over continuing civilian casualties in Kashmir.
Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah has urged the government to withdraw the act, but has met with strong resistance from the Indian military.
:: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website.