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India detains Kashmir activists on Rights Day

11 December, 2013

SRINAGAR: Around 20 people were detained on Tuesday in Indian-held Kashmir while protesting on Human Rights Day against abuses by security forces in the disputed territory, police and witnesses said.

Police blocked several small processions by rights activists in the main city of Srinagar while at least three separatist leaders were put under house arrest, security sources said. A senior police officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP that around 20 people, most of them known activists, had been detained.

An AFP photographer saw more than a dozen being rounded up in the centre of Srinagar and there were similar reports from witnesses elsewhere in the city. Relatives of Kashmiris who have gone missing, and blame the security forces for their disappearance, issued a statement to protest what they called "gross violations".

"In Kashmir, we observe it (Human Rights Day) as a Black Day. State power continues to trump human rights here, letting down thousands of victims battling gross violations and brutality," said the statement of the UN-supported day. Scores of protesters who say they were tortured or sexually assaulted by Indian security forces held a silent sit-in at a park, displaying posters demanding justice and an end to emergency military laws that protect troops accused of abuses from prosecution in civilian courts.

Posters read "Is it too much to ask for justice?" and "Where are our loved ones?" The Indian government has consistently maintained that rights abuses are "aberrations" and that perpetrators are punished by military courts. In one of many such findings by local rights groups, a 354-page study released last December alleged widespread disappearances, murders and torture by security forces.

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