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The BBC's Altaf Hussein in Srinagar
They are demanding the exhumation of the bodies
 real 28k

Monday, 3 April, 2000, 14:09 GMT 15:09 UK
Kashmir protesters shot dead

Protesters were arrested by police in Anantnag
At least seven people have been killed in Indian-administered Kashmir after police fired on a protest march.

Pakistan in crisis
Police in the town of Anantnag, 50 km south of Srinagar, say they opened fire after protesters hurled stones at them.

A separatist political leader, Shabir Shah, who was leading another, smaller march in Anantnag, was arrested.

The protests were the latest in a series of demonstrations in the area following the massacre of 35 Sikhs last month.
Timeline
20 March: 35 Sikhs massacred by unknown gunmen
24 March: Five or more men picked up by security forces
25 March: Five militants killed by security forces
29 March: Six more militants killed by security forces
Local Muslims allege that after those killings, a number of young men were picked up by Indian security forces searching for those who massacred the Sikhs.

The men have not been seen since.

Later, five people were killed in what the authorities said was an encounter with militants involved in the Sikh massacre.

However, local people suspect they may be the missing men, and are demanding the exhumation of their corpses so they can be identified.

The massacre of the Sikhs - on the eve of President Clinton's historic visit to India - was blamed by Delhi on Pakistani-backed separatist militants.

Militant groups denied any involvement.

Diplomat's visit

The violence in Kashmir came as Indian officials played down speculation about a possible resumption of official contacts with Pakistan.

Niaz Naik: Secret talks?
The speculation has been prompted by the arrival in Delhi of a former Pakistani foreign secretary, Niaz Naik.

However, Indian officials said he was not due to meet senior policymakers.

"We are aware of his visit," said a foreign ministry spokesman.

A Pakistani newspaper, Jang, said Niaz Naik was in Delhi for what it called secret meetings with Indian Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, and some of his close aides.
Indian soldier in Kashmir
Tension between India and Pakistan has been high
However, the prime minister's office said it was not aware of any plans for a meeting with Mr Naik or of a request for such a meeting.

Mr Naik acted as a mediator last year when India and Pakistan came close to war after Pakistan-backed forces infiltrated Indian-controlled Kashmir.

The BBC's Mike Wooldridge in Delhi says it is hardly surprising that the reports of Niaz Naik's visit have triggered the notion that informal channels of communication between India and Pakistan may be active once again.

Clinton visit

It is less than a year since India and Pakistan were locked into their worst military confrontation in three decades along the line of control in Kashmir.

During his visit to the region last month, President Clinton urged India and Pakistan to resume dialogue to reduce the subcontinent's tensions.

Shortly after his visit, Pakistan formally proposed talks with India.

General Musharraf, on a visit to south-east Asia, said he was ready for talks at any time, and in any place.

But India said this could happen only when, as it put it, Pakistan stopped backing terrorism in Kashmir.

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See also:

25 Mar 00 | South Asia
Kashmir massacre suspect captured
25 Mar 00 | South Asia
Pakistan firm on US demands
05 Feb 00 | South Asia
Musharraf backs Kashmiri militants
31 Mar 00 | South Asia
India accused over peace walk
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