India's leader has used part of his Independence Day address to call for an end to violence in Kashmir.
The appeal for an end to the ongoing street protests in Kashmir by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh came one day after two more protestors were killed in clashes with security forces in Indian controlled Kashmir. The protests have lead to 57 deaths over the past two months.
The protestors have set official buildings and vehicles on fire during the almost daily protests. Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan but claimed by both countries. However, anti-India sentiment runs deep in the Indian controlled portion, with most reportedly favoring either independence from India or a merger with Pakistan.
In his 30 minute speech, the Prime Minister said his government is ready to hold talks, saying "the years of violence should now end and that such violence will not benefit anyone." The speech was delivered in New Delhi marking India's Independence Day which was the end of British colonial rule in 1947 and the partitioning of the territory into India and Pakistan. That split has lead to tensions between the two nations and triggered three wars, two of them over Kashmir.
Prime Minister Singh's address was delivered as he stood behind bullet proof glass. The entire city of New Delhi had been turned into a virtual fortress with nearly 80,000 police and troops guarding the capitol city. The United States had warned in an advisory last week about the continuing threat of terrorist attacks in Indian cities.