Protest in Indian Kashmir over youth killings

22 February 2009

Srinagar: Protests erupted in Indian Kashmir on Sunday over the killing of two Muslim youth in a shooting incident blamed on the army, police and witnesses said. Authorities have ordered a probe into the deaths which took place on Saturday evening in north Kashmir after soldiers allegedly fired at a vehicle, sparking fresh anger against Indian troops in the disputed Himalayan region. 'Indian forces go back, we want freedom', mourners shouted as they marched with the body of one of the victims in Bumai village 60 km ( 38 miles) north of Srinagar, Kashmir's summer capital. Police and paramilitary soldiers sealed off adjacent areas and Sopore town to prevent more anti-India protests, police said. Kashmir was hit last year by some of the biggest protests in two decades against New Delhi rule. The Indian army said they are investigating the shooting incident in which three villagers were also wounded. Authorities in the past have denied systematic human rights violations in Kashmir and say they probe all such reports and punish the guilty. Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah ordered a magisterial enquiry into the incident to be completed in 15 days, an official statement said. 'He (Omar Abdullah) assured that exemplary punishment will be given to those found guilty.' Tens of thousands of people have been killed in the region since an insurgency broke out in 1989. But overall violence involving Indian troops and separatist guerrillas has declined significantly across Kashmir since India and Pakistan, which both claim the region but rule in part, began a slow-moving peace process in 2004. New Delhi has put a pause on that dialogue after last November's Mumbai attacks, in which 179 people were killed.