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Kashmiri Hindus Fearful Of Escalating Violence

on 2001/8/31 9:49:02 ( 1307 reads )


JAMMU, INDIA, August 29, 2001: A wave of killings of Hindus by militants over the past six weeks has terrorized the minority community in Kashmir. The latest victims were two Hindu monks who were dragged from a temple by militants and beheaded, police said. The slayings on Monday brought the Hindu death toll to at least 34 since last month's India-Pakistan peace summit focused on the Kashmir issue collapsed. "Villagers are scared to death," said Purushottam Lal, a resident of the Jammu region, home to over two million Hindus in the state. "We're struggling to organize ourselves to prevent attacks," Lal reported from Poonch where a curfew remains in force following the monks' deaths. Authorities say the militants are trying to drive a wedge between the Hindus and Muslims in the region and force the Hindus out of the state through violence. Hindus, they say, are being targeted as they are seen as being in favor of Kashmir remaining within India. During the last decade, thousands of Hindus have fled the Srinagar region since the revolt against Indian rule erupted in 1989. Until recently, the Jammu region, with its large Hindu population was relatively free of violence.

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