Indian soldiers opened fire on protesters in the disputed region of Kashmir on Saturday, killing two young men and wounding several others, police said.
(AhlulBayt News Agency) - Indian soldiers opened fire on protesters in the disputed region of Kashmir on Saturday, killing two young men and wounding several others, police said.
The protesters threw stones at the soldiers as their convoy was passing through a village in southern Shopian, prompting them to open fire, police claimed. Police said several people were wounded, one critically, and taken to hospitals. Villagers put the number of wounded at nine.
As the news of the killings spread, hundreds hit the streets chanting anti-India slogans and demanding an end to Indian rule. Protester groups demand that Kashmir be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country, a view that is widespread even among civilians in the region.
Tension in Shopian was already running high after government forces killed two local protesters and a teenage boy during a gun battle Wednesday. One of the slain protester was from the village where Saturday's shooting took place.
India's military said in a statement that the soldiers came under "intense stone pelting" and the crowd caused "extensive damage and tried to set ablaze" four vehicles in the convoy. It said seven soldiers were injured and said protesters also tried to lynch an officer.
"The army was constrained to open fire in self-defense," the statement said.
A police officer in the area, Shriram Ambarkar, said they have registered a murder case against the army and begun an investigation into the incident.
Separately, the Kashmir government also ordered a magisterial probe to be completed within 15 days.
Rights groups say such investigations rarely yield any concrete results and are generally aimed at calming public anger.
The leaders who challenge India's sovereignty over Kashmir and fight New Delhi's rule politically called for a general strike Sunday in response to the killings.
Both India and Pakistan lay claim to the entire Kashmir region and have fought three wars over the Himalayan territory. Each controls only parts of the area, however. In 2003, the two countries reached a ceasefire agreement but sporadic clashes continue.
The United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) has been monitoring the border for decades.
Recently, at least 21 people were killed, most of them in the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir, where Indian authorities accuse elements supported by Pakistan of involvement in rebel attacks. Islamabad has always denied any support but reiterates it backs the popular drive in Muslim-dominated Kashmir for independence or a merger with Pakistan.
Each side summoned diplomats from the other country at the time to protest the provocations that have renewed hostilities across the border. That came after Indians said two soldiers and two civilians had been killed by mortars fired from the Pakistani side.
The decades-long conflict in Kashmir has left some 70,000 people killed.