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Tuesday, 10 December, 2002, 13:57 GMT
Kashmiri activist in fire protest
Women in Kashmir holding up banner
The protest was to highlight human rights abuses
A leading human rights activist in Indian-administered Kashmir has set himself on fire in protest at alleged human rights abuses by police and security forces.

Mohammad Ahsan Untoo, chairman of the state's Human Rights Forum, doused himself in kerosene as hundreds of demonstrators were taking part in protests to mark World Human Rights Day.

Kashmir activist fire protest
Mr Untoo was not seriously hurt
Police smothered the flames before taking Mr Untoo to a nearby police station where he received medical treatment.

He was not seriously hurt.

Shortly before setting himself alight, Mr Untoo told journalists his action was to register a protest against "growing human rights abuses by Indian troops."

International human rights groups, such as Amnesty International, have criticised Indian government troops as well as militant rebel groups for abuses.

Action

Human rights activist S Barve said: "Some violations are recorded. Most are not. Both sides are at fault."

The government has said it will pursue action when violations by troops or police are reported.

Indian-administered Kashmir's main separatist alliance, the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) is holding a one-day seminar to coincide with World Human Rights day.

APHC leaders say they hope to highlight what they allege are continued human rights violations by the Indian authorities in the region.

Kashmir's new chief minister, Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, has promised to address concerns over human rights abuses by security forces and hopes to establish dialogue between the government in Delhi and separatist groups in the disputed region of Kashmir.

More than a dozen rebel groups have been fighting for more than a decade against Indian rule in Kashmir.

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02 Nov 02 | South Asia
25 Nov 02 | South Asia
21 Nov 02 | South Asia
30 Oct 02 | South Asia
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