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India urged to curb soldiers after 18 demonstrators shot dead in Kashmir - Liz Lynne

September 15, 2010 9:58 AM

Lib Dem Euro MP Liz Lynne has called on India to stop its soldiers from routinely using live ammunition to control crowds after at least 18 people were shot dead in one day in Indian-controlled Kashmir.

The troubled province suffered one of its bloodiest days in recent years after troops opened fire on demonstrators in several towns on Monday.

More than 80 people have been killed by security forces in Kashmir since June after campaigners from the majority Muslim population stepped up their demands for autonomy or independence and for action against police or soldiers guilty of human rights abuses.

Some of the protests on Monday, reportedly involving tens of thousands of people in at least five towns, were further inflamed by claims on Iranian satellite tv that copies of the Koran had been burnt in the United States.

Yesterday, Amnesty International urged Indian authorities to investigate a video clip that appears to show four young male detainees in Kashmir being stripped and humiliated by security forces.

Liz Lynne, a longstanding campaigner for justice in Kashmir and a member of the European Parliament's South Asia Delegation, urged the Indian government to take action.

The West Midlands MEP said: "The deteriorating situation in Jammu and Kashmir is extremely worrying. Monday's death toll of 18 demonstrators shot dead by soldiers in separate incidents is shocking and disturbing. It is tragic that in one incident a policeman was also killed.

"I note that opposition leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who is still under house arrest, was quick to condemn the attack by a crowd on a Protestant missionary school.

"I hope the Indian government will also heed the calls from Human Rights Watch for all sides to defuse tension and end violent confrontation. Soldiers should not resort to live ammunition when dealing with demonstrations, let alone fire directly into crowds of people.

"The Indian authorities must also address other alleged human rights violations as apparently shown in this video, which has caused outrage.

"Dialogue and restraint are a pre-condition to restoring momentum to a peaceful resolution of the dispute in Kashmir, which has sadly suffered setbacks in recent months."

"In the European Parliament I will be keeping up the pressure on the Commission and the EU's External Action Service to use their influence to lobby for progress towards a just resolution which involves the Kashmiri people."

ENDS