[The protests in Handwara, about 40 miles northwest of Srinagar, broke out after residents said that a Kashmiri girl had been molested by a soldier on Tuesday at a public bathroom adjacent to an army camp in the town. In a video circulating on television shared by the army, the girl, whose face was blurred, denied that she was molested by the soldier, and said instead that local boys had harassed her.]
A funeral on Wednesday in Langate, in the Indian-controlled part
Credit Farooq Khan/European Pressphoto Agency
authorities in NEW DELHI imposed
a curfew on the northern Indian city of Jammu and Kashmir State on
Wednesday, a day after Indian soldiers fired on a crowd of angry protesters at
an army camp, killing three people, officials said. Handwara
A fourth person died on Wednesday in clashes with the police during related protests in Kupwara district, said S. J. M. Gillani, Kashmir’s inspector general of the police.
The protests in Handwara, about 40 miles northwest of Srinagar, broke out after residents said that a Kashmiri girl had been molested by a soldier on Tuesday at a public bathroom adjacent to an army camp in the town. In a video circulating on television shared by the army, the girl, whose face was blurred, denied that she was molested by the soldier, and said instead that local boys had harassed her.
“The protesters threw stones on the army bunker and tried to set it on fire” said Mr. Gillani, who acknowledged that no army personnel had been injured in the protest. He added, “The army is not trained to deal with such situations and they can only fire back on the crowd.”
By Wednesday evening, more than 100 police officers had been injured in clashes with the protesters, according to a police statement.
The chief of the Indian Army’s Northern Command, Lt. Gen. D. S. Hooda, called the shootings “highly regrettable” and ordered an inquiry, the army said in a statement.
But human rights groups called for an independent investigation. “This is not the first time that security forces have opened fire on protesters,” said Zahoor Wani, a campaigner with Amnesty International India. “Reports that the army used excessive force must be investigated.”
The police and security forces in
frequently clashed with civilians as they have tried to contain an insurgency
for the last three decades. Human rights groups and activists have accused the
forces of abuses, including extrajudicial killings and torture. A state law
grants immunity in civilian courts to soldiers accused of crimes, including
rape and murder.
Television news showed deserted streets in Handwara on
Wednesday with a heavy deployment of soldiers, while shops were shut in
as well. Srinagar
The chief minister of the state, Mehbooba Mufti, said in a televised interview that she had spoken to the defense minister on Wednesday. “He gave me full assurance that this incident will be fully investigated and whosoever are responsible will be punished,” she said.
Though widespread clashes between security forces and
civilians have ebbed in recent years, the
has been convulsed by protests. In 2010, more than 100 people, mostly boys,
were killed when the police and paramilitary forces fired on protesters who
were objecting to violence by the security forces.
And in 2009, the deaths of two girls in the
southern region of Shopian, about 25 miles south of
, led to months of
protests. The girls were found dead in a stream near police camps. Doctors
declared at first that they had been raped and killed, but autopsies conducted
some time later found that the young women had drowned. Residents dismissed the
findings as a whitewash by the police. Srinagar
Nida Najar contributed reporting