06 May 2006 11:34:48 GMT, Source: Reuters
SRINAGAR, India, May 6 (Reuters) – At least 10 people were injured in Indian Kashmir on Saturday when police fired teargas shells and baton-charged hundreds of students as protests erupted over a suspected prostitution ring involving local officials.
Local newspapers and television channels have been reporting details of a racket they say provided prostitutes for politicians, police officers and bureaucrats.
"Expose people … stop pushing innocent girls into the sex trade," protesters shouted outside the Kashmir University campus in Srinagar, the summer capital of the troubled state.
On Friday, an angry mob ransacked the house of a woman suspected of running the prostitution ring, before razing it to the ground and setting fire to her belongings.
The woman and three others were detained by police for questioning after pornographic videos and video clips on mobile phones showing nude Kashmiri girls were circulated in Srinagar.
The investigation has been handed to a federal Indian agency to probe accusations that senior officials were involved.
Members of a women's separatist group, Dukhtaran-e-Milat, whose name means Daughters of the Muslim Faith, also demonstrated against the suspected prostitution ring on Saturday.
"If the government fails to expose the accused we will intensify our agitation," group head Asiya Andrabi said.
A strike call by the group and Srinagar's traders shut most shops, businesses, schools and colleges in the city on Friday.
Prostitution is illegal in India. Police have arrested several people over the past years on charges of being involved in the crime in Kashmir.
More than 45,000 people have been killed in Kashmir since a separatist revolt against Indian rule erupted in 1989 in the Himalayan region, which is also claimed by Pakistan.