Indian Official Blasts ‘Inexcusable’ Shooting Death of Kashmir Protester

Posted January 3rd, 2012 at 6:20 am (UTC-5)
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Indian Kashmir's top official on Tuesday criticized his country's security forces for fatally shooting a teenage student during a protest against mid-winter power cuts.

Indian paramilitary forces opened fire on the group of protesters on Monday, killing an 18-year-old student and wounding two other people.

The chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir state, Omar Abdullah, called the use of force “excessive” and “inexcusable” during a visit to meet the student's family on Tuesday.

Police say they opened fire after protesters began throwing stones and tried to storm the offices of the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation in the Boniyar area of the Baramulla district. The facility is near the Line of Control — a de facto border that divides Pakistani- and Indian-controlled Kashmir.

The Himalayan region suffers frequent power cuts despite bitterly cold winter temperatures.

Some fear the fatal shooting will spark a wave of violence in the region. In 2010, more than 100 people were killed during months of unrest following the fatal shooting of a teenage protester.

Kashmir is claimed in full by both India and Pakistan. Since 1989, Muslim separatists have been fighting for Kashmir's independence from Hindu-majority India or for a merger with Muslim-majority Pakistan. At least 50,000 people have died in the violence.

The nuclear-armed neighbors have fought two wars over the Himalayan region since gaining independence from Britain in 1947.