Indian Kashmir Offers Reward In Hunt For Killers

29 August 2009

Srinagar: Authorities in Indian Kashmir Saturday announced a 40,000-dollar reward for information in a double rape and murder case that sparked huge anti-India protests. Police have arrested four fellow officers for allegedly destroying evidence that could have led investigators to those responsible for the rape and murder of two women. A paid advertisement published in leading Urdu newspapers of the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley said the government would pay two million rupees (40,000 dollars) to anyone providing information about the killers. The bodies of a 17-year-old girl and her 22-year-old sister-in-law were discovered in a stream on May 30. Police initially said they drowned, but later acknowledged they had both been raped and murdered. The case triggered widespread anti-India protests in the Kashmir valley after family members accused the security forces of being directly involved in the women's deaths. A judicial probe into the case concluded that the four policemen and a forensic expert not only failed to carry out their proper duties but also destroyed important evidence. Anti-India sentiment runs deep in the Kashmir valley, where the majority of residents want independence for the Himalayan region. A nearly 20-year Muslim insurgency in Indian Kashmir has claimed more than 47,000 lives. Violence has declined in the state since India and Pakistan started a peace process in 2004 to resolve all pending disputes including Kashmir. The dispute dates from the partition of the subcontinent in 1947 and the Kashmiri region is split between the two countries along a UN-monitored line of control.