Police in Kashmir kill 18 at Koran-burning protest

The long-troubled state of Kashmir suffered one of its bloodiest days when at least 18 people were killed and more than a hundred injured as security forces opened fire on protesters in confrontations across the valley.



As politicians in Delhi debated whether to ease a bitterly controversial law that provides effective immunity to troops, Indian forces again responded to widespread demonstrations with deadly force.

The protests, which saw tens of thousands of people ignore a curfew and take to the streets, were at least partly in anger over reports that copies of the Koran had been burnt in the US. A police officer also lost his life.

More than 80 people have been killed by the security forces since June, when protesters stepped up their demands for autonomy for Kashmir and for troops and police to be held accountable for their actions. Most of those killed and wounded have been teenagers and young men, though other people have also been caught up in the violence. Campaigners have demanded that the authorities use non-lethal methods for countering the crowds.

But despite claims by the state and central authorities that such techniques are being introduced, police continue to respond to many incidents with deadly force. In the village of Tangmarg, 25 miles north-west of Srinagar, troops fired on thousands of rock-throwing demonstrators, killing five and wounding at least 50 others. In the western town of Budgam, troops tried to disperse demonstrators with tear gas and baton charges but began firing into the crowd after protesters attacked a police station and the government forces with rocks, police said. At least four people including a young woman were killed and at least 30 others were wounded, some critically. Protesters were killed in at least three other towns.

Human rights groups yesterday called on both demonstrators and the authorities to take action to ease the situation. "The anger in Kashmir has been brewing because of injustice," said Meenakshi Ganguly, a regional spokeswoman for Human Rights Watch. "What is needed now is a genuine commitment from the government to address all allegations of human rights violations, but the separatist leaders too must call for an immediate end to these violent attacks."

Last night, the Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, said the central government was seeking a peaceful resolution to the conflict. "We are willing to talk to every person or group which abjures violence, within the framework of our constitution," he said.

Yet at the same time, it emerged no agreement had been reached on the possibility of lifting the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, a draconian piece of legislation in operation in Kashmir and parts of north-east India which gives sweeping powers to the security forces.

While many analysts have called for the law to be removed, military commanders say it provides their forces with crucial leverage.

While separatists seeking autonomy from India had planned a new round of demonstrations following the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan this weekend, the anger in Kashmir had been exacerbated by reports on the Iranian state-run channel Press TV that copies of the Koran had been desecrated over the weekend in the US. While a Florida pastor called off his plan to burn copies of the Koran on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the Iranian channel showed footage of a man destroying a copy of the Muslim holy book in Tennessee. The broadcasts were eventually blocked at the demand of Kashmiri authorities.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £45,000

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a solutions / s...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Test Development Engineer

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you inspired to bring new a...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Motor Engineer

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific