SRINAGAR: Indian Kashmir’s chief minister on Tuesday condemned the shooting dead of a protester by soldiers as “inexcusable” as he moved to prevent a return of deadly civil unrest to the disputed region.
An 18-year-old student was killed and another person was injured by paramilitary soldiers at a demonstration on Monday against power cuts that have caused fierce resentment during freezing winter weather.
“The circumstances will have to be treated as not as an act of self-defence but the case of excessive use of force,” Omar Abdullah told the NDTV news channel during a visit to the village of Boniyar to meet the student’s family.
“The location of the injuries, the number of rounds that were fired, all of it point to an inexcusable, excessive use of force that was unwarranted,” he added.
Police said they opened fire after protesters hurled stones at them and tried to storm the main offices of the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation.
The shooting of protesters by security forces has in the past started a spiral of violence in Indian Kashmir, a Muslim-majority region where many residents want to break away from rule by New Delhi.
More than 110 people were killed, most of them shot by security forces, during months of violent separatist demonstrations in 2010.
Small rallies against the shootings were held in Boniyar on Tuesday.
Protests over electricity – a highly political issue in Kashmir – have erupted in recent days following blackouts because of power-generation problems.
Temperatures of minus 14 degrees Celsius have led lakes to freeze and rivers to run lower than usual, causing difficulties for the hydroelectric projects that provide 70 percent of local power.
Security forces in Indian Kashmir are routinely accused by human rights groups of using excessive force and torture.