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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 February 2007, 11:44 GMT
Kashmir shut down over killings
Kashmiris protest during the strike in Srinagar
Kashmiris want action taken against the security forces
A general strike in protest at alleged extra-judicial killings of civilians by security forces has disrupted life across Indian-administered Kashmir.

Most businesses closed, schools shut and traffic was thin on the roads.

Separatists who called the strike accuse the police and security forces of killing people in faked gun battles.

Four bodies have been exhumed since last Thursday as part of a probe into claims that clashes with militants were used to cover extra-judicial killings.

Tear gas

The BBC's Bashir Ahmed in the summer capital, Srinagar, says most shops and businesses there and in other major towns in the region were closed in response to the one-day strike called by the separatist Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF).

Nazir Ahmed Deka's coffin
Two exhumed bodies have recently been seized by crowds

There was little traffic on the roads and few workers turned up at government offices, banks and other commercial establishments.

Protests were held in various parts of the Kashmir valley. In Srinagar, police used tear gas and batons to disperse demonstrators.

JKLF leader Mohammad Yaseen Malik had led protesters who were demanding action against members of the security forces over the so-called "fake encounters".

"The peace process and killing of innocent Kashmiris cannot go together," he told the rally.

Mr Malik has begun a hunger strike to press his movement's demands.

There have been angry scenes in recent days as the police have exhumed four bodies as part of their investigation into alleged fake encounters.

Last Friday, angry protesters seized the exhumed body of a civilian who they allege was shot by the security forces. Another body was seized by crowds in a similar incident on Thursday.

Officers arrested

Deputy Inspector General of Police, Farooq Ahmed Bhat, said an investigating team was looking into four cases of alleged staged encounters in which civilians were killed.

Over the weekend, four policemen, including two senior officers, were arrested for allegedly killing civilians and trying to pass them off as militants.

On Monday, both the police and the army began separate inquiries into the allegations of extra-judicial killings.

In a report released last September, the US-based Human Rights Watch said extra-judicial executions by Indian security forces were common.

On Monday, Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said there had been a dramatic improvement in security in Indian-administered Kashmir since he came to office in November 2005.

A decline in militancy-related violence had been accompanied by a marked decrease in human rights violations, including deaths in custody and disappearances, he told the state assembly.

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