Protests spread across northern India after security forces shoot Muslim demonstrators

Striking and marches take place across Jammu and Kashmir region after four killed and 40 wounded

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The Independent Online

India’s northern Jammu and Kashmir region was rocked by protests following a fatal shooting at Muslim demonstrations on Thursday.

Islamic organisations called for people to strike in a number of areas, as marchers burnt tyres, blocked off main roads and chanted anti-India slogans.

Police officials confirmed there had been protests today, but the Jammu inspector general told The Times of India: “The situation is under control – it is peaceful.”

The demonstrations follow an incident in Ramban yesterday, where paramilitary servicemen fired upon civilians, killing four and wounding around 40 in a crowd of Muslims themselves protesting what they claimed was the desecration of the Koran by Indian security forces.

Separatist militants have for decades encouraged disorder in the northern regions around the Himalayas, which have a Muslim majority and close links to Pakistan.

Yesterday the inspector general of the Indian Border Security Force said “Our men used the force for self-defence.” Rajive Krishan told a news conference his troops acted to disperse a violent mob which was trying to get access to the security forces’ supplies of arms and ammunition.

A curfew in the Ramban district, enforced following the shooting, remained in place today.

India's Interior Minister, Sushilkumar Shinde, said he was saddened by the loss of life and appealed for calm. He said he had ordered an inquiry into what led to the violence.

“Any use of excessive force or irresponsible action shall be dealt with strictly,” Shinde said.