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Deadly Violence Flares In Kashmir Days Before Obama India Trip

Indian paramilitary soldiers stand guard on a road leading towards the office of United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) in Srinagar, Kashmir, India (File Photo)

Police say Indian troops in India's Jammu and Kashmir state have killed at least six people they suspected of planning violence. Security is tight in the Kashmir valley, where separatist activists have vowed to draw attention to their cause during U.S. President Barack Obama's upcoming visit.

latest fatalities came in the form of several gun battles in the Kashmir valley. The area is part of Indian-controlled Kashmir, part of a broader region claimed by India and Pakistan.

The two countries have fought two wars over the region, and a massive Indian security presence has been in place since an armed insurgency erupted 31 years ago.

In a recent interview with VOA, Srinagar police chief Shiv Murari Sahai said security is being tightened for U.S. President Barack Obama's visit.

"We have intelligence reports that the separatists have given out a plan, and they would like widespread demonstrations to take place in the valley during that period," And at the same time we do know that the militants have tried to carry out preparations for carrying out suicide attacks."

Many average Kashmiris say the Kashmir conflict has evolved beyond the decades-old narrative of a proxy war between India and Pakistan. Members of a younger generation describe themselves as frustrated with Indian-imposed curfews and other security restrictions.

Manzoor-ul-Hassan, a student at Kashmir's Islamic University of Science and Technology, says stone-throwing protests that have gone on for the past four months are a response to India's excessive use of force in the region.

"Democratic countries should allow peaceful protest," said Manzoor-ul-Hassan. "But in Kashmir, we are not allowed to demonstrate peacefully. We are shot at."

The human-rights group Amnesty International sent an open letter to President Obama urging him to raise the issue of excessive use of force in Kashmir.

Former Indian foreign secretary and ambassador to the United States Lalit Mansingh recommends Mr. Obama, who arrives in India Saturday, refrain from any mention of Kashmir.

"Any attempt to intervene in the Kashmir issue is not going to be good for the United States, because that will not be appropriate," said Mansingh. "That will not be acceptable by India."

The White House says Kashmir is a bilateral issue to be dealt with between India and Pakistan.