SRINAGAR – Police shot dead another protester on Thursday in Indian Kashmir, bringing the death toll from four days of rioting to 22 as security was boosted on the eve of India’s Independence Day, which protesting Kashmiris are marking as a “black day.”
Police opened fire on dozens of stone-hurling demonstrators who marched in defiance of a four-day-old curfew in Srinagar, killing one and wounding another, a doctor and residents said.
Protesters torched a police vehicle and hoisted green flags in several areas of Kashmir valley.
Srinagar and other parts of the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley have been the scene of some of the biggest anti-India protests to shake the region in two decades. Besides the deaths, up to 600 were injured since Monday.
The unrest, triggered by a Kashmir government move in June to donate land to a Hindu shrine trust – a decision later reversed – has shattered several years of relative calm here brought about by the India-Pakistan peace process.
On Thursday, thousands of Muslims poured into the streets of Kashmir on Thursday, demanding independence from India hours after the foreign ministry of archival Pakistan called on the United Nations to stop “gross human rights violations” in the divided Himalayan region.
The latest protests began overnight in Srinagar following a rumor that security forces were breaking into houses and beating up women and children. “This is a question of our honor, come out of your homes,” said announcements played over the public address systems at various mosques in Srinagar.
Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International demanded that India stop police and soldiers from using guns against protesters unless the officers lives were being threatened. Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, in his address on the eve of the country’s independence day, strongly condemned the human rights violation and the suppression on these oppressed people” in Indian-held Kashmir. Pakistan’s statements drew a sharp rebuke from India. – Agencies