Kashmir protests after tests confirm women?s rape


NEW DELHI: Security forces opened fire on protesters inIndian Kashmir on Monday, wounding at least seven people, including twocritically, in the worst clash since unrest broke out last week overthe deaths of two young women.

Muslim Women’s Organization Chairperson Zamrooda Habib, center, shouts freedom slogans as she is detained by police officers during a protest in Srinagar. -AP Photo

Locals claim the womenwere raped and killed by Indian soldiers and have staged angrydemonstrations that have spread across the Kashmir valley.

Monday’sprotests came a day after police released forensic reports confirmingthat the two women were raped. Police were investigating the rapes butno one had been charged. The cause of death had not yet beendetermined, the statement said.

Thousands protested Monday in thestreets of Shopian, the women’s hometown, before police fired tear gasshells and live ammunition at the crowd. Scores were injured, includingat least seven with bullet wounds, said a police official who declinedto be named in keeping with department policy.

The unrest eruptedMay 30 after the bodies of a 17-year-old girl and her 22-year-oldsister-in-law were found in a shallow stream in Shopian. Angry streetprotests have left one person dead and more than 400 injured while ageneral strike called by separatist groups has shuttered businesses,government offices and schools across the Kashmir Valley.

Humanrights groups and separatist leaders have long accused the Indianmilitary of using rape and sexual molestation to intimidate the localpopulation as it wages a 20-year battle against separatist insurgents.

India’s military and paramilitary forces have not responded to the allegations.

Theprotests continued even after the state government ordered anindependent judicial investigation into the deaths. Rights groups saysuch probes rarely yield results and are often intended only to calmpublic anger.
Anger was also directed at the state’s topelected official, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who had said that theinitial findings ‘point in a direction that does not suggest eitherrape or murder.’
Zia-u-din, a government employee, who uses justone name, called for him to quit and accused the government of ‘tryingto cover up the horrific incident.’

In a separate incident, aKashmir police officer was arrested Monday and charged with raping alocal teenager and murdering her grandmother.

The suspect,Nazir Hamid, allegedly hit the grandmother in the head after the familyconfronted him over the rape accusations, according to a policeofficial who declined to be named in keeping with department policy.

Hamidwas arrested Monday in Kunzar, a village about 15 kilometers west ofSrinagar. Police say the alleged rape victim was 18, though localvillagers say she was 13.

source : dawn

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