Twenty Held In Kashmir Amid Fury Over Boys' Killing
25 July 2005
Srinagar: Indian police detained at least 20 protesters on Monday during a second day of angry demonstrations across Kashmir against the killing of three innocent teenagers after troops mistook them for militants. Saturday night's shooting, in which a 15-year-old boy was also wounded, has fuelled anger among Kashmiri Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir, largely Hindu India's only Muslim-majority state. Hundreds of students, as well as activists from a separatist alliance opposed to Indian rule, took to the streets in the state's summer capital Srinagar and in the northwestern town of Kupwara where the killings took place. 'Stop killing and genocide of innocent Kashmiris,' members of the All Parties Hurriyat (Freedom) Conference shouted before at least 20 of them were taken to a police station in Srinagar. Police said the protesters had defied a ban on unauthorised public meetings in Kashmir. The army called the death of the teenagers - whose ages have been estimated at between 13 and 15 years - a 'regrettable incident', saying the boys did not stop when challenged. 'The army requests all persons to stop when challenged and not run away as it leads to suspicion,' an army statement said. The protesters in Srinagar, led by separatist leader Javid Mir, carried banners that read: 'We want freedom, stop state terrorism.' On Sunday, thousands of people - some of them carrying the victims' bodies - protested against the army near Kupwara. Kashmir's chief minister, Mufti Mohammad Syed, has ordered an investigation into the incident. Violence involving separatist militants and troops continues in the Himalayan region despite a 20- month-old peace process between India and neighbour Pakistan, which controls a third of the divided and disputed state. In the latest firefight on Monday, the Indian army said it had shot dead five militants in Kupwara district when they were trying to sneak into India from the Pakistani side. Local leaders say New Delhi's forces continue to violate human rights with impunity. 'There has been an abrupt surge in rights violations by the Indian army in the state. Talks and genocide can't go together,' Kashmir's leading newspaper, Greater Kashmir, quoted Hurriyat chief Mirwaiz Umar Farooq as saying. Indian authorities deny a systematic violation of human rights in Kashmir and say they investigate all incidents and punish those found guilty.