Police crack down protesters in India-held Kashmir, one killed

More than 1,000 people including independence leaders who called for an election boycott were taken into custody or placed under house arrest ahead of the vote

Police crack down protesters in India-held Kashmir, one killed

World Bulletin/News Desk

Police opened fire in Indian occupied Kashmir on Wednesday killing one man as small groups protested the holding of national elections in the territory.

More than 1,000 people including independence leaders who called for an election boycott were taken into custody or placed under house arrest ahead of Wednesday's vote in Srinagar, the region's main city and hotbed of a nearly 25-year-old rebellion.

The vote was part of a mammoth Indian election that is reaching its final stages. Barely a quarter of those registered to vote showed up at polling stations in Srinagar, the election office said, far below the 60 percent average turnout across India.

"This is democracy at gunpoint. We don't want to have anything to do with this process. We want independence for Kashmir," said Hilal Ahmad, a 22-year-old protester, at a deserted street crossing.

Police opened fire after a group of protesters tried to set fire to a police vehicle, an officer said. One man was killed and two wounded.

Hundreds of police wearing body armour and carrying assault rifles patrolled the streets of Srinagar. Groups of young men gathered at intersections and threw stones at police and election officials.

"Srinagar has been turned into a military garrison," said Kashmiri leader Mirwaiz Omar Farooq, speaking from his home where he had been put under house arrest

Political leaders in Kashmir blame the federal government for failing to find a political solution as violence ebbed in the past few years.

Some believe that opposition leader Narendra Modi, tipped to win the election, may be in a better position to talk to Kashmiris as he enjoys the full support of the Hindu right.

"There is a feeling among the people of Kashmir that you need a Hindu fundamentalist party in power to look at any possibility of a Kashmir solution because if they go for any bold initiative or compromise, people will not raise a finger at them," Mirwaiz told Reuters last month.

Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party has long advocated a tough position on issues of national security including Kashmir.

 

Last Mod: 01 Mayıs 2014, 00:04
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