Man arrested in connection with Sikh massacre

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Indian police took a Kashmiri man into custody after survivors of a Sikh massacre told police that they had seen him showing the assailants the way to their village where 40 Sikhs were lined up and killed, a top police official said.

"At least two people have already identified him and told us that Muhammad Yaqub was showing those gunmen way to their village," the area's top police officer, Inspector General of Police, Raja Aijaz Ali told The Associated Press.

Yaqub, 21, will be interrogated Friday, Ali said. He has not been charged.

The development coincided with thousands of Sikhs with iron bars, swords and sticks storming through Jammu, the winter capital of Kashmir. They defied a curfew and an order to shoot curfew breakers on sight.

The violence in Kashmir spilled over to New Delhi where angry Sikh protesters torched two buses. But police managed to contain the violence.

In Srinagar, Deputy Inspector General of Police Ali said it was unlikely that Yaqub, who was picked up Thursday when he visited the Sikh village and was identified, was a militant.

"There are lots of missing links and we will have to wait until we question him," Ali said.

In Kashmir, angry Sikhs, some shouting "blood for blood," beat police as they marched 10 kilometers (six miles) to the seat of Jammu-Kashmir government to demand retaliation against Pakistan-based Muslim militants accused of Monday's slaughter.

The violence left more than 100 police and demonstrators injured in the rioting, which added to the troubles that have dogged President Bill Clinton's visit to India.

Authorities say they fear religious clashes. Jammu-Kashmir, which is less than 32 kilometers (20 miles) from the Pakistani border, is the only Muslim majority state in Hindu-majority India.

During the 10-year separatist insurgency, more than 25,000 people have died and hundreds of thousands of Hindus have been driven from their homes. But Monday's massacre was the first time Sikhs have been targeted.

The two main Pakistan-based militant groups and Pakistan's government have denied involvement in the killings in Chati Singhpura village, and have instead accused India's security forces of committing the murders to defame the separatist movement during Clinton's visit.

There was some initial debate about who was behind the killings, but demonstrators Thursday focused their anger at Pakistan - as well as the Indian government for failing to protect them.

Clinton, meanwhile, was visiting tourist sites and a village in western India Thursday.

During his stay in New Delhi, which ended Wednesday, Clinton expressed outrage over the Sikh killings. But he said he would not be "dragged" into the Kashmir dispute by acts of violence, and would not intervene unless both countries asked.

India rejects international intervention, while Pakistan wants the United Nations or other countries to mediate.

Comments