Thousands Protest In Kashmir After 3 Boys Killed
24 July 2005
Srinagar: Thousands of people protested against the Indian army in troubled Kashmir on Sunday, a day after security forces shot dead three teenaged boys mistaking them for militants, police and witnesses said. They said at least 5,000 people gathered near Kupwara town to grieve over the bodies of the dead boys and express their anger against the Indian army. 'We want freedom ... Down with the security forces,' the protesters shouted as they carried the bodies of the victims on their shoulders to a local police station to protest. The Indian army said Saturday night's ambush for Muslim guerrillas in Kupwara district, south west of Srinagar, summer capital of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, had gone wrong and the three boys had been mistakenly shot dead. A fourth was wounded. 'It is a regrettable incident,' army spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel V. K. Batra told Reuters. 'When the army's ambush party challenged the four boys, they did not stop. Instead, they started running. The soldiers then opened fire.' On Thursday, police used teargas to disperse hundreds of Muslims protesting the alleged killing of a teenager by Indian troops in south Kashmir. Authorities said the boy was killed in an exchange of fire between militants and soldiers. Indian authorities deny systematic violation of human rights in Kashmir and say they probe all such incidents and punish the guilty. Violence involving separatist guerrillas and Indian security forces continues despite a slow moving peace process between India and Pakistan who have two fought wars over the disputed region. More than 45,000 people have been killed in Jammu and Kashmir, mainly Hindu India's only Muslim-majority state, in the revolt which broke out in 1989. India says the separatist revolt is aided and abetted by Pakistan. Islamabad denies the charge.