At least 22 Hindus massacred in Kashmir
- At least 22 Hindus massacred in Kashmir
Mon May 1, 2006 03:08 AM ET
By Ashok Pahalwan
JAMMU, India (Reuters) - Suspected Islamic militants shot dead at least 22
Hindus in two small villages in Indian-administered Kashmir on Monday,
The massacre, one of the biggest in recent months, took place just days before
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh holds talks with Kashmiri separatists in
New Delhi and later travels to the violent region for a "roundtable"
conference with Kashmiris.
Militants struck the Hindu-dominated remote mountainous villages in Doda
district, some 170 km (100 miles) northeast of Jammu, Kashmir's winter
capital, early on Monday, police said.
No militant group has claimed responsibility for the attack. Five people,
among nine wounded, were in critical condition.
"They (the villagers) were asked to assemble outside the house of the village
head and later shot dead by the militants," Gulzar Ahmed Qureshi, a top Doda
official, told Reuters.
"Yes, they are all Hindus," he added. "This is an unfortunate incident when
things were looking up for peaceful days ahead."
One wounded man told Sahara News television channel over the telephone that
militants had come in the night and asked people to come out of their homes.
"They took one man from each house. The others they told to go inside. They
said they would set us free later. After going some distance, they started
beating us up and then opened fire," the witness said.
Militant violence has increased in Kashmir in recent weeks with the onset of
summer when snow melts in the region's mountain passes, allowing easier
movement of militants between the two zones of Kashmir split between nuclear
rivals India and Pakistan, but claimed in full by both.
Tens of thousands have been killed in the Himalayan region since an Islamic
revolt began in 1989 against Indian rule. Thousands of Hindus have fled the
state over the years.
Overall violence in the region has fallen due to a peace process between
Islamabad and New Delhi which began in 2004.
In a bid to take the peace process forward, Prime Minister Singh is due to
meet Kashmiri separatists in New Delhi on Wednesday.
The talks are being seen as an ice-breaker ahead of Singh's "roundtable" with
Kashmiris in Srinagar, the state's summer capital, later in the month.
© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.