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Curfew imposed in Indian-controlled Kashmir following civilian killings


08:34, July 19, 2013

SRINAGAR, Indian-controlled Kashmir, July 18 (Xinhua) -- The authorities in Indian-controlled Kashmir Thursday imposed curfew in Ramban district, after six civilians were killed when Indian border guards opened fire at protesters, an official said.

The firing incident took place in the morning at Dadam village, around 155 km south of Srinagar city, the summer capital of Indian- controlled Kashmir.

"We have imposed curfew in Ramban district as a precautionary measure this evening," said Shan Vinood Meena, district development commissioner in Ramban.

Meanwhile, curfew will be clamped in Muslim majority areas of the region including Srinagar city on Friday.

"The curfew will remain in place tomorrow in major towns as a precautionary measure to maintain law and order," said a government official.

The protests broke out early Thursday morning outside a camp of India's Border Security Force (BSF) following alleged roughing up of a mosque prayer leader (Imam) and discretion of holy Quran ( Islam's holy book) at the hands of BSF personnel.

The locals alleged BSF personnel barged into a local mosque on Wednesday night and beat up the Imam, besides desecrating the holy Quran. The BSF action enraged locals who Thursday morning staged massive protests outside BSF camp.

Police officials said infuriated locals threw stones at BSF camp and the BSF personnel then fired into the crowd to disperse it.

Six people were killed and more than two dozen others were wounded in the shooting.

The region's Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has strongly condemned the killings, calling it "unacceptable."

"It is highly unacceptable to shoot at unarmed protesters just because they were reportedly protesting manhandling of an Imam of their area," said Abdullah. "There is no justification or rationalization of this deplorable act. This shocking act warrants and demands the severest of condemnation in the strongest possible terms."

The killings swelled the protests and thousands of people across the region took to the street against the alleged discretion of holy Quran. The protesters blocked the vehicular traffic on the Srinagar-Jammu highway, the only road that connects the region.

Clashes also broke out between locals and police in Ramban.

Indian Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde on Thursday regretted the killing of civilians and ordered an inquiry into the incident.

Meanwhile, massive protests broke out in Srinagar city.

Authorities have blocked the mobile Internet services in the region, saying it was done to prevent "rumor-mongering" on social networking sites.

The region's hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani has called for a three-day shutdown in the region to protest the civilian killings.

The situation is tense in Ramban and protests are likely to spread to other parts in the region.

Anti-India sentiment runs deep in the psyche of Kashmiris.

The region's junior minister for home affairs and police chief has rushed to Ramban to pacify the civilian population.

Indian troops in this restive region are consistently accused of carrying out grave human rights violations.

Last month Indian soldiers shot dead two youths in Markundal village, around 38 km north of Srinagar city, triggering massive anti-India demonstrations.

Kashmir, the Himalayan region divided between India and Pakistan is claimed by both in full. Since their independence from British, the two countries have fought three wars, two exclusively over Kashmir.

Separatists in Indian-controlled Kashmir have been demanding an end of New Delhi's rule in the region. A guerrilla war is also going on between militants and Indian troops stationed in region since 1989.

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