South Asia News
Indian Kashmir shuts down over killings of women
Jun 1, 2009, 12:53 GMT
Srinagar, Kashmir - Thirty demonstrators were injured by security forces and businesses were shut down Monday during a strike called in India-administered Kashmir to protest the rape and killing of two women, allegedly by Indian troops.
The shutdown was called by separatist Hurriyat Conference leaders after the bodies of the two women were found Saturday in Shopian, a town in southern Kashmir.
Locals alleged that the women who went missing Friday evening and were raped and murdered by troopers.
The shutdown affected the state capital Srinagar and many other towns, such as Anantnag, Baramulla, Budgam, Kupwara and Kulgam.
Shops, businesses, educational institutions and banks were closed. Attendance at government offices was thin, and public and private transport stayed off the roads.
Despite heavy security and the presence of police and paramilitary forces, angry youth held protests in Srinagar and other towns, shouting pro-autonomy and anti-India slogans.
The protestors also threw stones at vehicles and security forces, who responded by firing tear gas and caning the mobs.
In all, 30 protestors were injured at various protests, state officials said.
Later on Monday, the Hurriyat said it was extending its call for the shutdown for another two days.
The situation remained tense in Shopian, which has been rocked by violent demonstrations since Sunday. The authorities have imposed an undeclared curfew in the region to stem the protests.
Although the army and authorities have rejected the allegations that government forces were involved in the women's deaths, saying they had drowned in a stream, the state government has said it would conduct an investigation.
State Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, meanwhile, ordered an inquiry into the incident by a retired judge.
'If any conspiracy or foul play comes to light with regard to the death of the two women, those involved would be turned over to justice,' senior administration official Masood Samoon told reporters.
Large numbers of soldiers have been deployed in Kashmir to check militancy and terrorist attacks, and the troops have often been accused of human rights violations by local people and rights groups.
More than 45,000 people have died in the Kashmir region since a separatist movement launched an insurgency in the 1980s. The victims include civilians, police, soldiers and militants.