Saturday, June 6, 2009

Kashmir Protests Women's Deaths

From Gulf News:
Thousands of government troops patrolled the streets of Indian Kashmir on Wednesday in an attempt to stop days of protests that began after the discovery of the bodies of two women locals say were raped and killed by Indian soldiers.

Police and paramilitary soldiers laid razor wire and erected steel barricades at street crossings in Srinagar, the main city in the Himalayan region, and other major towns, as hundreds defied restrictions on assembly.

Demonstrators clashed with police and soldiers who fired tear gas to break up the protests, said a police officer on condition of anonymity in keeping with department policy.

No fresh injuries were immediately reported on Wednesday, although more than 200 people have been wounded since Saturday when authorities recovered the bodies of the women.

The bodies of the 17-year-old woman and her 22-year-old sister-in-law were found in a stream on Saturday in Shopian, 60 kilometers south of Srinagar.

Police have said the women appear to have drowned, but their families and locals accuse Indian government forces of raping and killing them. The military and paramilitary groups have not responded to the allegations.

Human rights groups and separatist leaders have long accused the Indian military of using rape and sexual molestation to intimidate the local population.

Shops, businesses and government offices remained closed in much of Kashmir for the third day on a strike called by the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, Kashmir's main separatist conglomerate of nonviolent political groups.

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