South Asia

Kashmir parties seek inquiry into deaths of protesters

Political parties in Indian-administered Kashmir have called for an inquiry into the deaths of protesters at the hands of security forces.

At least 14 civilians have been killed in street protests in the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley in a month.

BBC correspondents say an undeclared curfew continues in parts of central Srinagar. Shops and offices have been shut by a strike called by separatists.

In other parts of the Kashmir valley a curfew was lifted on Sunday.

The violence comes ahead of talks later this week between India and Pakistan. Both countries claim Kashmir in its entirety and have fought two of their three wars over the Himalayan territory.

The Indian government accuses Pakistan-based militant groups of instigating the latest protests.

Separatists in the region want an end to Indian rule.

Media curbs

The BBC's Sanjoy Majumder in Srinagar says the city appears to have shut down.

Image caption Protests in Kashmir have raged for a month

Central areas which should be bustling with activity are almost completely deserted apart for a few cars.

Police in body armour are out in strength and have set up checkpoints at major intersections, our correspondent says.

The authorities have been criticised for excessive use of force in dealing with the protests.

But Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has said security forces cannot be expected to show restraint all the time when protesters are throwing stones at them.

Mr Abdullah invited the state's 12 parties for talks in Srinagar to try to evolve a consensus on how to deal with the violence.

The main opposition Peoples' Democratic Party (PDP) did not attend. It said the meeting was "useless" and appealed to the Indian prime minister to intervene.

The Jammu-based Panthers' Party also refused to attend. The talks went ahead without the two parties.

The meeting adopted a resolution urging the state government to "have an inquiry conducted to ascertain the circumstances leading to civilian deaths in the action by security forces".

It expressed deep anguish over the "unfortunate loss of lives during the recent disturbances".

Of those parties which attended, only the Bharatiya Janata Party did not back the call for an independent inquiry. It said such a move would affect troops' morale.

Meanwhile, Srinagar-based newspapers have resumed production after a four-day stoppage in protest at curbs on the movement of journalists.

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