India deployes thousands of troops in Kashmir

On Tuesday, thousands of police and soldiers armed with assault rifles patrolled streets in Kashmir.

India deployes thousands of troops in Kashmir

India deployed thousands of troops in the main city of Kashmir, a day before a crucial last phase of state polls on Wednesday..

Muslim-majority Srinagar, Kashmir's summer capital and the heart of a nearly 20-year-old pro-independence campaign against Indian rule, goes to the polls on Wednesday as does the Hindu-majority city of Jammu, the state's winter capital.

Indian forces had been conducting raids under the name of preventing demonstration agains ongoing elections.

During the raids, they arrested three members of the banned Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad armed group on suspicion of planning suicide bombings in Kashmir during polling.

"One of the three has been identified as Ghulam Farid alias Gulshan Kumar, a sepoy (soldier) of Pakistan Army," Kuldeep Khuda, director general of Kashmir police, told a news conference.

On Monday, two policemen were killed when suspected fighters fired at a police patrol in north Kashmir.

Pro-independent Kashmiris, many of them in jail, have called for a boycott of the seven-stage polls saying India portrays voting as an endorsement of its rule over the disputed Himalayan region.

On Tuesday, thousands of police and soldiers armed with assault rifles patrolled deserted streets in Srinagar and warned residents to stay indoors.

Shops, businesses government offices and banks remained closed in the Muslim-majority Valley, due to security restrictions.

"They have converted Srinagar city into a large military camp," 45-year-old shopkeeper, Mohammad Issac said. "It is worse than curfew."

But overall violence has fallen significantly across Kashmir since India and Pakistan began peace talks in 2004.

Those talks stalled after last month's attacks in Mumbai that killed 179 people and which India blames on militant groups based in Pakistan.

Officials say more than 50 has been killed by Indian forces in pro-independence rallies during recent months.

Reuters
Last Mod: 23 Aralık 2008, 17:13
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