JOHN ELLIOTT
The Independent

January 3, 2012

The fragile peace in India’s disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir was broken yesterday when security forces opened fire on demonstrators protesting against electricity power shortages, killing a 25-year old man and injuring two others.

Anger has been spreading across the mountainous region, where temperatures have dropped to near freezing, since unusually heavy power cuts were imposed last month. Yesterday’s demonstration was outside a power project at Uri near Boniyar, 90kms from the state’s summer capital of Srinagar.

Members of the Central Industrial Security Force opened fire when a group of about 500 protesters marched towards the project’s main gate. This is a central government force hired by the National Hydro Power Corporation and has little experience of handling the delicate situation in Kashmir, where there have been demands for some form of autonomy from India for over 60 years.

B R Sharma, the state’s home secretary, said five CISF personnel, including a sub-inspector, had been arrested. “The incident could have been avoided if CISF men had co-ordination with state police,” he said.

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