Two protestors killed in police firing in Indian Kashmir

Other News Materials 22 November 2008 13:56 (UTC +04:00)

Two young men were killed Saturday when police and paramilitary forces fired at a demonstration against holding elections in India's northern Jammu and Kashmir, news reports said.

The incident took place in Baramullah town, about 55 kilometres north-west of state capital Srinagar, IANS news agency reported quoting police and witnesses, reported dpa.

A seven-phase election to the Jammu and Kashmir state legislative assembly began on Monday and the second phase is due to be held on Sunday. Constituencies in Baramullah are slated to vote December 7.

India's Election Commission has staggered the elections to ensure that voters are provided maximum security. More than 47,000 people have died in a violent secessionist movement in the state since the mid-1980s.

Manzoor Ahmed Kumar, a senior school student, died after police guards of an election candidate fired at a stone-throwing mob in the Khanpora area of Baramullah, police said.

Protesters carried the body of the youth and marched towards the curfew-bound old quarter of Baramullah shouting slogans opposing the elections and Indian rule over the area.

As tension rose, the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force opened fire on the funeral procession in an attempt to disperse the protestors, witnesses said.

Two men were injured and one of them, Tanvir Ahmed Sheikh, succumbed to his injuries in a hospital, the police said.

There was a turnout of about 64 per cent in the first phase of voting, which covered 10 constituencies despite a boycott call by separatist political parties.

The disputed Kashmir region is currently divided into two parts, one administered by India and the other by neighbouring Pakistan. The nuclear-capable South Asian neighbours have fought two wars over the region.

Besides the Muslim-dominated Kashmir valley, India's Jammu and Kashmir state comprises the Ladakh region, which has a large Buddhist population, and the lower reaches of Jammu which is largely populated by Hindus.

The Kashmir valley saw widespread rioting and protests earlier in 2008 triggered by a temple land dispute which escalated into pro-independence agitation in the Kashmir valley led by the separatist Hurriyat Conference.

More than 40 people, most of them Muslims, died during the unrest. Many of them were killed in police firing.

Voting in Srinagar, the centre of the protests earlier this year, are being held in the last phase on December 24.