Sunday, November 14, 2010

Indian troops kill two in Kashmir border clash

SRINAGAR, India — Soldiers shot dead two suspected militants on Sunday after they crossed into Indian Kashmir from the Pakistani side of the disputed region, an army spokesman said.

The two were killed along the Line of Control (LoC) -- the de facto border that splits Kashmir between nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan -- in the southern Poonch sector, the Indian army spokesman said.

\"The operation in the area is still going on,\" he said, adding that militants were desperate to get into Indian Kashmir before the Himalayan passes get blocked by snow.

The insurgency against Indian rule has left more than 47,000 people dead since it erupted in 1989, according to an official count.

Pakistan denies Indian allegations that it funds and arms rebels in Indian Kashmir.

Violence had eased after India and Pakistan launched a peace process in 2004 but popular protests against Indian rule since June have left more than 110 protesters and bystanders dead.

The unrest has left the government grappling for solutions to the outpouring of anger in the region, where popular desire for an independent Kashmir remains strong.

Home Minister P. Chidambaram announced in October that the government had selected senior journalist Dilip Padgaonkar and professors M.M. Ansari and Radha Kumar to hold talks with separatists and ordinary people in the troubled state.

\"There is a need to involve Pakistan for finding a durable solution to the Kashmir problem,\" Kumar told reporters on Sunday in Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian Kashmir.

She said she favoured confidence building measures like release of political prisoners arrested for taking part in or organising anti-India protests.

The experts have held talks with pro-India Kashmiri politicians, students, traders and jailed militants.

Separatist politicians have declined to meet them, describing the exercise as \"futile\" and a \"time-gaining\" tactic by New Delhi.

But Kumar said they were hopeful of a meeting with the separatists.

\"We would want to meet the separatists on every trip to the state and I hope we will meet them soon... it is a hope,\" she said.

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