Indian media: Army court martial for Kashmir 'staged killings'

Indian army soldiers stand guard after a shootout in Srinagar December 11, 2013. A Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) officer was killed and another injured after militants opened fire on a CRPF patrol, police said.
Image caption Tens of thousands of troops are deployed in Indian-administered Kashmir

Papers are giving prominent coverage to the Indian army's decision to start court martial proceedings against six soldiers over their involvement in the alleged staged killings in Indian-administered Kashmir.

On April 30, 2010, the army said it had killed three "Pakistani infiltrators" along the Line of Control (LoC) - the de facto border that divides the disputed region of Kashmir between India and Pakistan - in Machil area.

The claim was disputed by the residents of the area who accused the army of carrying out a "fake encounter" and said that those killed were local villagers.

Weeks of violent protests brought Kashmir Valley to a halt and there was further bloodshed after the killings.

"More than 120 protesters, most of them teenagers, were shot dead by the police during these protests, which many observers believe ended up further alienating the generation of youth born after the 1990, the year the raging insurgency peaked," says a report in the Hindustan Times.

The army later set up an inquiry into the allegations that finally culminated into the launch of court martial proceedings against six soldiers, including two officers, on Wednesday, reports say.

"After a detailed scrutiny of the incident and wrongdoings committed by the personnel concerned, the army has ordered court martial proceedings to take the legal process to a logical conclusion, highlighting the army's resolve to ensure speedy justice," The Tribune quotes Lt Col Rajesh Kalia, the defence ministry's northern command spokesperson, as saying.

Meanwhile, a recent meeting between top military officials from India and Pakistan has rekindled hopes of wider peace talks between the neighbours, papers say.

The directors-general of military operations (DGMOs) from the two sides met on Tuesday for the first time in 14 years and agreed on steps to strengthen a ceasefire in Kashmir.

"Let the dialogue begin," read the headline of an editorial in The Hindu, capturing a mood clearly shared by other dailies.

The paper says the talks "did not come up with any eureka ideas on how to safeguard the ceasefire… but the very fact of their face-to-face interaction gives the hope that the two sides can still settle differences in a sensible manner".

The Tribune echoes the sentiment, seeing the talks as the "beginning of some constructive engagement".

Smokers barred

Meanwhile, a village council in Somgarh in West Champaran district in Bihar state has banned unmarried women from using mobile phones, the Hindustan Times reports.

A council member said the decision was approved by "hundreds of villagers", but Bihar minister Bhim Singh warned of action against any efforts to implement the ban, the report added.

But prohibition of a different variety is not new for the village of Bullakheri in the northern state of Haryana, where a 400-year-old anti-smoking tradition is still going strong, says a report in The Tribune.

Legend says a local king allowed the founding of the village after the villagers' ancestors promised a no-smoking policy - now a "sacred" tradition in the area, the report adds.

"Villagers have excommunicated many residents for smoking along with their families and thrown them out of the village," it says.

And finally, the transport ministry is planning to use lorries - which often showcase witty slogans and one-liners in paint - for spreading serious social messages, according to a report in The Times of India.

Popular lines such as "Evil-eyed one, may your face be blackened" may soon be replaced by staid slogans against drunken driving, speeding and unsafe overtaking, the report says.

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