Mark Magnier from Srinagar

From Los Angeles Times: “In Kashmir, rocks are weapons of choice

“Down a 15-foot-wide alley of shuttered shops in Srinagar’s Batmaloo neighborhood, stone-throwing protesters and police face off under a blazing midday sun. Most of the rocks thrown by demonstrators miss their mark, but when one lands, a loud cheer erupts.

Dozens of officers, some with slingshots, answer in kind, roaring with glee whenever their projectiles strike protester flesh.”

Armed militancy in Kashmir, which peaked in 1990, has dropped sharply in recent years as rocks replace guns for a new generation of angry young men.

That’s left critics here questioning why 650,000 members of the Indian security forces remain — one for every eight residents — and why stones are answered with bullets when other nations routinely defuse civil unrest without fatalities.

Of the 58 recent civilian deaths, nearly half were minors, one as young as 9.”

In recent weeks, they have also rounded up at least 932 young men, charging some with attempted murder or public safety violations, allowing for up to two years’ detention without trial.

Under Indian law, minors must be placed in juvenile detention centers. But Kashmir has none, so some are housed with hardened criminals, even Islamic militants, human rights officials said, and exposed to police mistreatment.

American author Arthur Ward once said that stones can be thrown, complained about, climbed over or used for building. After a summer of discontent, many in Kashmir wonder where things are headed.”

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