Home > News > Regional
Saturday February 1, 2014 MYT 7:25:00 AM
Saturday February 1, 2014 MYT 7:28:23 AM
Indian paramilitary forces keep watch in Srinagar, on January 31, 2014
Srinagar (India) (AFP) - Large parts of Indian Kashmir shut down on Friday and protests were held against a military court verdict last week that exonerated five army officers involved in the killing of civilians 14 years ago.
Most shops and businesses were closed and public transport halted in the main city of Srinagar and other areas of the restive region after separatist groups called a strike over the court's decision.
Scores of protestors shouting anti-India slogans pelted stones during clashes with police and paramilitary forces who fired tear smoke canisters to disperse them in the city's old town area.
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who also heads a faction of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, a grouping of separatist organisations, urged Kashmiris to "raise our voice against the verdict", in a statement this week.
Police detained more than a dozen activists after they tried to stage a protest near a central commercial district in Srinagar, an AFP photographer said.
Hundreds of residents also protested near the graves of the five civilians in the southern village of Brari Angan, in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, chanting "we want justice", according to a police officer.
The five victims were killed days after the massacre of 35 Sikhs in the remote village of Chattisinghpora in March 2000.
The army claimed the victims were "foreign militants", accusing them of being responsible for the massacre.
But a subsequent probe by India's top investigating agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation, described the killings as "cold blooded murder", paving the way for a trial in a military court held behind closed doors.
The five soldiers were however cleared last Thursday as "the evidence recorded could not establish a prime facie case against any of the accused persons", according to an army statement.
In its verdict, the military court did not dispute the CBI's findings that the victims were civilians but it added that they were killed during an operation "based on specific intelligence".
The decision has been denounced by rights groups and Kashmiri separatists and fuelled anger in the already tense region.
Security forces, particularly paramilitaries and army personnel, in Indian Kashmir are routinely accused by human rights groups of using excessive force and torture.
The local government was preparing a "legal recourse" to try to reopen the case, but it is unclear how this could be achieved since the military court handling the case was outside of civilian jurisdiction and scrutiny.
Kashmir, a picturesque Himalayan region, is divided between India and Pakistan and claimed by both.
About a dozen rebel groups have been fighting Indian forces since 1989 for Kashmir's independence or for its merger with Pakistan.
The fighting has left tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, dead.
Tags / Keywords:
Indian Kashmir, protest, military court verdict
Eight arrested as Hong Kong police pepper spray protesters
Malaysians can learn from this sad episode
Pastor: I would hug protesters
Cross protesters should have followed proper procedure, says Jakim
Taman Medan church can put back cross, says Azmin
‘The future will take care of her’
Philippines leader to appeal for Filipina’s life at Malaysia summit
Nepal quake rescue effort ramps up as toll hits 3,200
Next stop – Sensational Singapore
How Malaysians abroad are bridging a skills gap
10 ways to discover Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef
Hernandez double helps Real put four past Celta
Robots and dinosaurs as Japan holds 'Niconico' offline gala
Groups pledge support for Adenan’s move to conserve state’s surviving sites
Copyright © 1995-2015 Star Publications (M) Bhd (Co No 10894-D)