India

Kashmir strike-breaking shopkeeper beaten to death

September 2010 protest in Srinagar
Image caption Shopkeepers are expected to comply with strike calls in Indian-administered Kashmir

A shopkeeper in Indian-administered Kashmir, who was beaten by protesters for refusing to shut his store this month, has died, his family says.

Tariq Salam Bhat, 26, was surrounded by about 60 youths near Srinagar on 3 December and struck with a cricket bat, a day after he defied the protesters.

He was admitted to hospital where he died on Wednesday.

Anti-India sentiments are high in the Muslim-majority Kashmir Valley and protests are common in Srinagar.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah condemned the attack as he addressed a party convention in Doda.

"If you want to fight, you should fight politically and not by means of hooliganism, high-handedness and muscle power," he told protesters.

"A peaceful and youthful person of Nowhatta is the latest victim of your outlook."

Shopkeepers' strike

Small businesses are expected to comply with the demands of separatist groups to shut down during any strike action.

On 2 December, police had fired tear-gas shells at demonstrators in the old city, leaving many of them injured, the BBC's Riyaz Masroor reports from Srinagar.

Some of the protesters, who had tried to force the shutdown, returned the next day to Mr Bhat's shop.

A scuffle broke out and the shopkeeper was hit around the head with a cricket bat, our correspondent says.

Shopkeepers in the old city have called their own strike to protest against Mr Bhat's death.

The Kashmir Valley has been in the grip of a violent insurgency against Indian rule for two decades, although violence has declined in recent years.

Kashmir is divided into Pakistani- and Indian-administered areas, with both nations claiming the region in its entirety.

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