Indian Troops Lock Down Kashmir Capital

7 March 2009
Agence France-Presse

Srinagar: Thousands of Indian police and paramilitary forces imposed tight security Saturday on Kashmir's summer capital to prevent protests over the death of a young man in a police shooting, police said. Troops sealed off neighbourhoods and patrolled the deserted streets of Srinagar, urban hub of a nearly two-decade-old revolt against New Delhi's rule of the Muslim-majority region. 'We've imposed security restrictions to prevent violent protests,' police officer Pervez Ahmed said as troops with rifles slung over their shoulders built barricades and stopped residents leaving their homes. The move came a day after a 22-year-old man was killed and dozens of people hurt when police fired bullets and tear gas to disperse fresh anti-India demonstrations in Srinagar, summer capital of the region. The stone-throwing protesters were demanding the release of separatists jailed last year for leading some of the biggest pro-freedom demonstrations in the region since the start of an anti-India insurgency in 1989. Fifty protesters were killed during those demonstrations. The head of the moderate wing of the main separatists alliance accused troops of 'a reign of terror'. 'The troopers have been unleashing a reign of terror on the Kashmiris and no one seems to be bothered,' Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said. The fighting has left more than 47,000 people dead, according to official figures, and thousands more according to separatists. But overall militant violence has declined sharply across the scenic Himalayan region since India and Pakistan, which both hold the region in part but claim it in full, began a slow-moving peace process in 2004. New Delhi put on hold the dialogue following Islamic militant attacks on Mumbai last November that it has blamed on Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba. Lashkar has denied any involvement but India says Islamabad must crack down on militant activity emanating from its soil.