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Indian Kashmir Declares Amnesty for More Than 1,100

Relatives of missing Kashmiri youths participate in a protest organized by the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons in Srinagar, India, August 29, 2011

Authorities in India-controlled Kashmir have declared an amnesty for 1,200 youths accused of throwing stones at security forces during pro-independence protests last year.

Indian Kashmir's chief minister, Omar Abdullah, said the government is dropping the cases to give the suspects "a one-time opportunity to be responsible persons and lead a normal life."

Abdullah says the young men should consider the amnesty as a "gesture" from their elders and a gift for the Eid-al-Fitr holiday, which marks the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

He says, however, that the government will prosecute protesters accused of setting fire to government offices and vehicles.

Last year, Kashmir was rocked by clashes between stone-throwing youths and security forces. At least 110 people were killed when troops fired into the crowds.

Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan, but claimed in its entirety by both.

The dispute has triggered two of the three wars between the neighbors since independence from colonial rule in 1947.