February 28, 2007 / 3:03 PM / 13 years ago

Seven policemen charged with Kashmir civilian murder

SRINAGAR, India, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Authorities in Indian Kashmir charged seven policemen on Wednesday with killing a civilian in a fake gun battle and passing him off as a militant, police said.

Police in the insurgency-torn state have been accused of murdering civilians in staged gun battles and earning rewards and promotions meant for killing militants.

"All seven policemen have been charged with criminal conspiracy, kidnapping and destruction of evidence in the murder of carpenter Abdul Rehman Padder," police official Uttam Chand told reporters.

Police said they are also investigating four other cases of death in alleged fake shootouts.

Earlier, eight policemen including two senior officers, were arrested for killing at least five people in alleged fake gun battles.

Last month, five bodies, including Padder’s, were exhumed in connection with investigations into charges of staged gun battles.

A DNA test report confirmed last week that one of the bodies was that of the 35-year-old Padder, a father of five.

The killings sparked violent protests across Kashmir, where tens of thousands of people have been killed in a separatist revolt which broke out in 1989.

The New York-based group, Human Rights Watch, has said the alleged killing of innocent Kashmiris by Indian security forces in staged gun battles must be independently investigated.

The Kashmir-based Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons has also called for a probe into the disappearance of around 10,000 people.

But authorities say the number of missing people is between 1,000 and 3,000, and deny allegations that people disappear from custody.

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