Two dead in Kashmir street demonstrations

BBC News

Police in Indian-administered Kashmir have fired at protesters who had taken to the streets in defiance of a curfew.

Indian Held Kashmir.JPG
Protesters clash with police on the streets

At least two people have been killed in the most recent clashes in the towns of Sopore and Baramullah, police say.

Their deaths take the number of civilian deaths in the region this June to eight.

The demonstrators were on the streets on Monday to protest against the rising number of civilian deaths.

At least 16 people have been injured in the disturbances, police say.

The state government has accused the security forces of being “trigger happy” and has called on them to exercise more restraint.

No-one from the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) – accused of most of the killings – was available for comment.

The BBC’s Altaf Hussain in Srinagar says that the recent deaths have caused much embarrassment to the state government.

Hundreds of thousands of troops are based in Kashmir to fight a two-decade insurgency against Indian rule.

Anti-India sentiment runs deep in Muslim-majority Kashmir, over which India and Pakistan both claim sovereignty and have fought two wars.

Procession

Some of the most serious clashes on Monday took place in the northern town of Sopore, 50km (30 miles) from Srinagar.

Local residents say that the paramilitary CRPF opened fire after the funeral of Bilal Ahmed – killed in firing by the CRPF on Sunday night – had been completed.

They say that Tajamul Ahmed was killed in the firing on Monday and a number of others were wounded.

The CRPF have been blamed for at least six of the eight civilian deaths this month.

Four civilians have now been killed protesting in Sopore in as many days, with little sign of the protests abating.

In Baramullah the CRPF was accused by protesters of firing on marchers as they tried to go towards Sopore.

The state authorities say that the security forces have been guilty of “excessive use of force” against the protesters.

On Sunday night, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah spoke to India’s Home Minister P Chidambaram and expressed his concern over the killings.

State Law Minister Ali Mohammad Sagar told a press conference on Sunday night that the CRPF had ignored the chief minister’s clear instructions to exercise restraint while dealing with protesters.

Mr Sagar said the killing of Bilal Ahmed had “no justification at all”.

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