Kashmiri woman arrested for stone throwing 2 years ago

Updated 23 December 2012
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Kashmiri woman arrested for stone throwing 2 years ago

SRINAGAR: Police in Indian-controlled Kashmir arrested a young woman accused of throwing stones at government forces during anti-India protests two years ago. She has been charged with attempted murder, a police officer said yesterday.
Zahida Akhtar was arrested on Friday in southern town of Anantnag and also is charged with instigating protests, said police officer Ramesh Jalla. A court freed Akhtar on bail yesterday pending trial, Jalla said.
In 2010, Kashmir witnessed some of the largest protests against Indian rule that left at least 112 people dead in firing by government forces.
Police say more than 3,000 cases involving thousands of Kashmiri people are being investigated for their participation in the protests. Some of them face severe charges ranging from unlawful assembly to attempt to murder. Adil Ahmed Dar, Akhtar’s brother, denied the police claim and said his sister was hit by a police bullet and had to drop out of school.
“I took her to the police station after police came to my shop and said she was wanted for an inquiry. When we reached there, they simply arrested her,” Dar said.
“This is even worse than jungle rule. First they (government forces) almost made her an invalid. Now, after two years they’ve arrested her,” he said. Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan, and it is claimed by both countries.
Since 1989, an armed uprising and ensuing crackdown by Indian forces have left an estimated 68,000 people dead in the region. In recent years, the armed conflict has largely subsided, with public opposition to Indian rule now seen mostly in street protests, where government forces and rock-throwing youths regularly face off.
A separatist leader in the disputed region Saturday condemned the woman’s arrest and said India has converted Kashmir into a “police state.”
“On the other hand, they’ve not brought to book any police or soldier involved in 2010 killings,” said Syed Ali Shah Geelani in a statement.


Armenian leader resigns, says to protesters: ‘I was wrong’

Updated 18 min 25 sec ago
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Armenian leader resigns, says to protesters: ‘I was wrong’

  • Armenians have poured out into the streets in protest over Sargsyan's apparent attempt to perpetuate himself in power
  • Former Prime Minister Karen Karapetian was named acting premier and opposition leader Nikol Pashinian was released from detention

YEREVAN: Armenian Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan resigned unexpectedly Monday to quell massive anti-government protests over what critics feared was his effort to seize power for life.
Residents of the capital, Yerevan, poured out on the streets to celebrate his stunning departure. People hugged and kissed each other, and motorists honked their horns.
Protest leader “Nikol Pashinian was right. I was wrong,” Sargsyan, a former Armenian president, said in a surprise announcement on his website. “The movement on the streets is against my rule. I’m complying with their demands.”
The move plunges the Caucasian Mountains country into uncertainty after 10 days of protests against Sargsyan’s appointment as prime minister.
The appointment was part of a transition to a new governmental system that reduces the powers of the presidency and bolsters those of the premier. Critics saw that as an attempt by 63-year-old Sargsyan, who served as president from 2008 until term limits forced him out in March, to stay in power indefinitely.
It echoes similar tenure-lengthening maneuvers by Russian President Vladimir Putin — Armenia’s closest ally. Leaders of other former Soviet republics from Belarus to Central Asia have also engineered themselves lifetime jobs.
The streets of Yerevan have turned into masses of human anger since anti-government protesters began rallying on April 13, blocking government buildings and facing off with police. Sunday’s rally attracted some 50,000 demonstrators.
Pashinian, the protest leader, was arrested on Sunday after he met the prime minister for talks. Sargsyan abruptly ended the meeting when Pashinian refused to discuss anything besides the prime minister’s resignation. The protest leader was released from custody Monday afternoon.
Sargsyan said Monday that he should not have resisted the demands of the opposition.
Opposition leaders have not yet commented on Sargsyan’s resignation and have called a rally in central Yerevan for Monday evening.
The Armenian government quickly named former Prime Minister Karen Karapetian as acting premier. A Sargsyan ally, Karapetian also served as mayor of Yerevan and worked in Russia for five years as a senior executive of state-controlled gas giant Gazprom.
Alexander Iskanderian, director of the Caucasus Institute in Yerevan, told The Associated Press that the protests drove Sargsyan into a corner:
“The protests in the past couple of days have swelled to a point that you either had to use violence or find another way out,” Iskanderian said.
Russian officials and state television have been cautious in commenting on the unrest in Armenia. In the past, Moscow decried anti-government rallies in neighboring post-Soviet nations as example of hostile Western interference.
In what appeared to be the first official Russian reaction to the resignation of the Armenian premier, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova lauded Sargsyan’s decision as a move to unify the nation.
“The people who have the strength to keep respect toward each other despite crucial differences and stay united even in the most difficult moments of its history is a great people,” Zakharova wrote on her Facebook account. “Armenia, Russia is always with you!“
When Sargsyan switched to the prime minister’s job, ally Armen Sarkisian, a former prime minister and ambassador to Britain, was elected president in Sargsyan’s place. Sarkisian was seen as an unofficial Sargsyan appointee.