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Last Updated: Friday, 9 July, 2004, 15:06 GMT 16:06 UK
Kashmir 'torture' sparks protest
Indian troops in Indian-administered Kashmir
Indian security forces are accused of brutality
Thousands of people have protested in Handwara, a town in Indian-administered Kashmir, against the alleged police torture of a schoolgirl.

Police used batons, tear gas and fired into the air to break up protesters as they marched to the main square.

Fifteen people, including nine students, were injured.

The protesters say the 17-year-old girl, Hussaina Ara, was detained by police and tortured on 2 July. Police have not commented on the detention.

The protesters demanded action against the police officers they alleged carried out the torture.

'Innocent'

The BBC's Altaf Hussain in the summer capital, Srinagar, says Hussaina was picked up by police from her school in Handwara on 2 July.

A local news agency said she was tortured during a three-hour-long interrogation and had been admitted to hospital for treatment.

A doctor told the Associated Press news agency that Hussaina was suffering from lash wounds, broken bones and damaged tendons and muscles.

One of the officers who allegedly tortured the girl was quoted by a local newspaper as saying she was actively involved in militancy.

But local residents say she is innocent.

Separatist leaders and human rights activists condemned the alleged police action.

Arrests

Police reportedly detained prominent separatist leader, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, while he was on his way to Handwara on Friday.

In another incident, a second separatist leader, Javed Mir, was held while he led a protest march in Srinagar against what the protesters called excesses by the Indian security forces.

Militant separatists have been fighting Indian rule in Kashmir - which both Pakistan and India claim - since 1989. Around 40,000 people have been killed since then.


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