South Asia

Curfew imposed as civilians are shot dead in Kashmir

Protesters in Srinagar on 12 August 2010
Image caption Srinagar has seen numerous demonstrations in the last few months

A curfew has been imposed in Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian-administered Kashmir, after four civilians were shot dead on Monday.

Unofficial curfews have also been imposed in three other towns.

The city remains tense following the shootings in Pattan, 27km (16.7 miles) north of the capital despite the impending Muslin Eid holiday.

Sixty-nine people have now been killed during anti-India protests over the last three months.

All but four of them have either been shot or beaten to death by the police and Indian paramilitaries.

'Draconian laws'

A police officer confirming the latest deaths told the BBC that guards of a provincial police chief opened fire after protesters pelted his motorcade with stones.

The Kashmir valley has witnessed widespread anti-India demonstrations since mid-June.

Separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani - who has been put under house arrest - on Monday repeated five key demands which he said were necessary to stop the protests.

These include:

  • Recognition by Delhi that Kashmir is an "international dispute"
  • The "demilitarisation" of Kashmir
  • The release of "political prisoners",
  • The withdrawal of "draconian laws" such the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA)
  • The punishment of soldiers involved in the killings

The Indian government has still to respond to Mr Geelani's demands.

However, the state's beleaguered chief minister, Omar Abdullah, has underscored the need for addressing the Kashmir problem politically.

Image caption While militancy has declined, street protests have intensified

He has repeatedly stated that the AFSPA needs to be amended or withdrawn from those areas of Indian-administered Kashmir where the army is no longer needed to fight insurgency.

But Indian generals have opposed the proposal to revoke the AFSPA, arguing that troops cannot operate in Jammu and Kashmir without the immunity available to them under the act.

In separate violence on Monday, the army says that it killed seven militants in two gun-battles in the frontier areas of Gurez and Handwara.

Incidents of armed violence have plummeted in the past few years with militancy showing a marked decline.

However, the three-month old public uprising has caused a lot of concern to the Indian government.

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