Protests in Indian controlled Kashmir

Angry protests in Indian Kashmir over killing of a teenager in police firing
The Associated Press: July 7, 2007 (Published in International Herald Tribune)

SRINAGAR, India: Protesters clashed with police in the main city in Indian-controlled Kashmir on Saturday after a teenager was killed when police fired on a crowd protesting alleged human rights abuses, officials said.

Four policemen were injured as they used bamboo batons to control hundreds of rock throwing protesters in several places in downtown Srinagar, said Farooq Ahmed, a top police officer in Srinagar.

"We are avoiding using too much force," Ahmed added.

On Friday, clashes broke out as crowds left prayers at the Jamia mosque in Srinagar, chanting anti-Indian slogans on the streets and throwing rocks at the security forces. The demonstrators were protesting alleged human rights violations by security forces.

Police opened fire, wounding two people, said Reyaz Ahmed, a witness to the fight.

One of the victims, a 16-year-old boy, later died, said Dr. Abid Hussain of Sher-E-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences, who tried to treat him.

Also Friday, separatists called a strike across Indian Kashmir to protest alleged human rights abuses by Indian troops, forcing shops, businesses and schools to shut down.

On Saturday protesters burned tires and chanted "Down with India," "We want independence," and traders enforced a shutdown in the old parts of the city. Traffic movement also came to a halt in the city.

Kashmir is split between Pakistan and India, but claimed by both in entirety. The two sides have fought three wars, including two over Kashmir, since independence from Britain in 1947.

Separatist political groups and nearly a dozen rebel groups reject Indian rule over Kashmir and want to carve out an independent homeland or merge with Muslim-majority Pakistan. More than 68,000 people, most of them civilians, have died in the separatist conflict since 1989.

Kashmiris resent the presence of the army of predominantly Hindu India and government forces are often accused of torturing and killing people they suspect are tied to the militants. Authorities routinely investigate such allegations, but prosecutions are rare.

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