'Blood For Blood' Chants Mark Funeral In Kashmir6 February 2010
Srinagar: Thousands of people chanted 'Blood for blood' and 'We want freedom' at a funeral Saturday for the second teenager in a week whose death has been blamed on police and government forces in Indian-controlled Kashmir's main city. Widespread protests have rocked the disputed Himalayan region for six days, and thousands of armed troops patrolled the city warning residents to stay indoors. On Friday, paramilitary soldiers charged at a group of people gathered on a playground in Srinagar and began firing as the people fled, killing 17-year-old Zahid Farooq Shah, according to a friend, Mushtaq Ahmed, who said he witnessed the shooting. Hemant Lohia, a top police officer, confirmed Shah died from a bullet wound but said the other details about Shah's death still were being investigated. Last Sunday, a 14-year-old boy died after he was struck in the head by a police tear gas shell as an anti-Indian protest had ended. The police officer who fired the shell was suspended and police called it 'a callous and irresponsible action.' Clashes between rock-throwing protesters and government forces since then have injured at least 93 protesters and 33 troops in the region, and another 80 protesters have been arrested. Kashmir, which is predominantly Muslim, is divided between India and Pakistan and claimed by both in its entirety. Anti-India sentiment runs deep in the Himalayan region, where more than a dozen rebel groups have been fighting for Kashmir's independence from India or its merger with Pakistan since 1989. More than 68,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in the uprising and the subsequent Indian crackdown. 'Incidents of unprovoked and innocent killings will not be tolerated, and whosoever is involved in such killings will be brought to book and doled out exemplary punishment so that it becomes a lesson and deterrent for others as well,' Omar Abdullah, the top elected official of the region, said in a statement. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, a top separatist leader, called for more protests and dismissed the government probe into Shah's death. 'First they kill an innocent youth and then order useless inquiries. It is shame for the government,' he said. Shops, businesses and government offices were closed for a fifth day on Saturday in most parts of Kashmir. Public transport also stayed off the roads. Police officer Lohia said the government had banned the assembly of more than four people in Srinagar in an attempt to suppress protests.