India announces moves to ease crisis in Kashmir

Indian paramilitary soldier in Srinagar India has a large security force in Kashmir

The Indian government has announced a range of measures designed to defuse tension in Indian-administered Kashmir.

More than 100 civilians have been killed since June in protests against Indian rule.

Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram said students who had been detained for throwing stones would be released.

He added that all schools and universities - closed during recent unrest - would re-open immediately.

The minister also said discussions would be held on how to reduce the number of security force checkpoints and bunkers.

And he added that the federal government would appoint a group to begin what he described as a sustained dialogue with Kashmiris, including political parties.

Saturday's announcement came after a delegation of Indian lawmakers visited the region this week and met some separatist leaders, although others refused to meet them.

"We think these steps should address the concerns of different sections of the people in Jammu and Kashmir, including the protesters," said Mr Chidambaram.

A prominent separatist leader, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, dismissed the announcements as "meaningless".

Tens of thousands of people have been killed in Kashmir since an armed revolt erupted in 1989.

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