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Kashmiris protest over rape by Indian soldiers

Source : Associated Press
SRINAGAR | 22 Jul 2011

Thousands hurling rocks and shouting anti-India slogans protested in a remote village in Indian Kashmir on Friday, after a woman told police she was abducted and raped by army soldiers stationed in the Himalayan region.

The 25-year-old woman filed a police report saying two soldiers abducted her Tuesday near her home in Manzgam village and held her in a meadow hut, raping her repeatedly over two days, according to her statement Thursday. Her husband later told reporters she was left in the meadow and made her way home in a state of shock but would be able to identify her attackers.

The protesters demanded the arrest of the two soldiers. The Indian Army and police, wary the case could touch off renewed conflict in the volatile region, insisted justice would be done. "A special investigation team has been formed," said Shiv Murari Sahai, a Kashmir official. Police also said results of a medical exam of the woman were pending.

Indian Army chief in Kashmir Lt. Gen. Syed Ata Hasnain said the military also is investigating, but he suggested armed Kashmiri rebels may have staged the attack to incite public anger against the army.

"Terrorists also use combat uniform" that could resemble the army's, Hasnain told reporters in Srinagar. "We've conducted certain operations a fortnight ago in the same area, and the terrorists are under pressure. Therefore, this was something which was not unexpected. As the news spread Thursday about the alleged attack in Manzgam, about 120 km south of Srinagar, hundreds of village residents took to the streets chanting pro-freedom and anti-army slogans.

By Friday, thousands more from neighboring villages had joined the protest, demanding the accused soldiers be arrested. At least five civilians and four officers were injured in clashes Friday, as the protesters hurled rocks at police who tried to stop them from marching through Manzgam, police said.

In another development, a US federal court hearing for a Kashmiri-born man charged with working for Pakistan's spy agency to influence Washington policymakers was postponed Thursday.

Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai, the director of the Kashmiri American Council, is charged with working to influence Congress, the White House and State Department under the direction of a senior member of Pakistan's spy agency.

Prosecutors say Fai, who was arrested Tuesday by the FBI, donated money to political campaigns, wrote newspaper op-eds and met with eaders as part of a secret lobbying plot to influence US policy on Kashmir.

Fai appeared in US District Court for a hearing to determine whether he would remain in custody or be allowed to go free as his case continues. But a magistrate postponed the detention hearing until Tuesday.


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