Indian Kashmir protests death sentence for Delhi bombers


Express April 23, 2010

SRINAGAR: A one-day strike brought Indian Kashmir to a standstill on Friday, in a protest at the death sentences handed to three members of a separatist group who bombed a New Delhi market in 1996.

The three members of a Kashmiri group called the Islamic Front– two Kashmiris and a Muslim resident of New Delhi– were sentenced to death on Thursday by a court in the Indian capital. The strike, called by both hardline and moderate factions of the region’s main separatist alliance, closed shops, schools, banks and businesses in Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian Kashmir. Police fired teargas shells to quell the hundreds of protesters who took to the streets, hurling stones at security forces and vehicles, while burning tires and blocking roads.

“At least 25 were injured in the daylong clashes,” Parvez Ahmad, a police official told a news agency. On April 13, one person was killed and 24 hurt during a strike called in protest against the three suspect’s convictions for the bombings, which killed 13 people and injured dozens in New Delhi’s Lajpat Nagar shopping area. Anti-India insurgents have waged a two-decade fight against New Delhi’s rule in the Himalayan region that has left more than 47,000 people dead, according to the official count.

In all, six people have been convicted of the 1996 Lajpat Nagar Central Market bombing. Of the three convicts not sentenced to death, one was jailed for life, one was given a seven-year imprisonment, while the lone woman was give just over four years. The latter two were found guilty under milder provisions of the law and released, after taking into account time served while on trial. New Delhi police tightened security on Thursday around tourist hotspots and markets after the US warned that it had “specific” information about possible attacks on foreigners.

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