Indian police arrested over rape-murder

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The Independent Online

Four police officers were arrested in Indian Kashmir after being accused of destroying evidence in the rape and murder of two women that triggered weeks of anti-India protests, officials said today.

Witnesses said the arrests ended a 47-day protest strike on Thursday in the southern Kashmiri town of Shopian, where the bodies of the two Muslim women were found on 29 May.

Locals say the women, aged 17 and 22, were abducted, raped and killed by security forces. A judicial probe, the findings of which were divulged last week, concluded that policemen may have been involved.

"The four police officers have been shifted to an undisclosed location and will be put to sustained interrogation," said a senior police officer who did not want to be identified.

A court in Srinagar has also ordered the collection of DNA samples from the four police officers, including a former police chief of Shopian district.

Anti-India protests raged across the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley since the women were found, triggering almost-daily clashes that have killed four protesters and injured hundreds.

Locals blame at least 10 recent deaths on security forces.

Troops fighting separatist militants in Kashmir have been accused in the past of human rights violations, including rape and extrajudicial killings.

Authorities deny any systematic violations and say all reports are investigated and the guilty punished.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed since simmering discontent against Indian rule turned into a full-blown rebellion in 1989.