Police shoot Kashmiri protester

14 August 2008

London: One person has been killed after police opened fire on demonstrators in Srinagar, in Indian-administered Kashmir, police say. Protesters took to the streets to defy a third day of curfew in parts of the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley. More than 20 people have died this week on police firing on protesters. The unrest began two months ago in the region when a small piece of land was awarded to a trust running a Hindu shrine - provoking Muslim anger. The government then rescinded its decision, triggering furious counter-protests from Hindus in the Jammu region. After years of relative calm, the demonstrations in the valley are the biggest since a separatist rebellion against Indian rule broke out nearly 20 years ago, analysts say. Protesters continue their demonstrations despite another death In Thursday's protests, officials in Indian-administered Kashmir said a man was killed when police opened fire on protesters who were setting fire to government vehicles in Safakadal, downtown Srinagar. Protesters hoisted Pakistani flags at several places in the valley on what is Pakistan's Independence Day. A curfew is continuing at several places in the Jammu region, though it is being relaxed from time to time. 'Gratuitous' India and Pakistan meanwhile have engaged in a war of words over the Kashmir question. The Pakistani foreign ministry and President Musharraf spoke out against India for 'violating human rights' in Kashmir and have called on the UN to intervene. Tension and violence have returned after months of relative calm On Thursday, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that the issue was of deep concern to Pakistan. 'This matter of Kashmir is not India's internal affair, it is as much a matter for Pakistan as it is for Kashmiris,' he said. India responded quickly to the criticism. 'To call for international involvement in the sovereign internal affairs of India is gratuitous, illegal and only reflects reversion to a mindset that has led to no good consequences for Pakistan in the past,' the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. A retired doctor committed suicide in Jammu after asking Hindu people to 'intensify' their agitation, police said. The BBC's Altaf Hussain in Srinagar says there is anger in the region over what some perceive as excessive use of force by the police to break up the demonstrations. The US-based Human Rights Watch called on India to 'refrain from using lethal force against violent protesters... unless it is absolutely necessary to protect life'.