Briefly: Panel urges lighter hand in restive Kashmir

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INDIA

SRINAGAR — India should rethink the harsh military laws imposed on Kashmir if it wants to defuse tensions in its portion of the disputed, divided Himalayan region, a panel of Indian-appointed mediators advised Thursday.

But the panel rejected the idea that Kashmir should be autonomous, despite decades of separatist unrest and rival claims to the territory by neighboring Pakistan.

Instead, their report - which is not legally binding - reaffirmed Kashmir’s “dual character” within India.

The mediators said granting more autonomy, as the territory had before 1953, “would create a dangerous constitutional vacuum in the center-state relationship. The clock cannot be set back.”

Separatists rejected the report as redundant. They have objected for decades to Kashmir’s special constitutional status as an Indian effort to placate international critics, and they said Thursday’s report represented another attempt to subjugate the region under a false sense of democracy.

MYANMAR

Power-cut protesters clash with police

YANGON — Demonstrators protesting electricity outages in Myanmar clashed with police Thursday, and several were arrested.

The spreading protests are a test of the tolerance of a reformist civilian government after decades of military rule.

Parliament member Win Myint said demonstrators in his constituency resisted when they thought police were going to arrest their leaders, and the six people detained were released later. He represents Pyay, 160 miles northwest of Yangon.

“The police tried to take some leaders, and people tried to stop them,” said one witness in Pyay. “The police beat the protesters with rubber and bamboo sticks to disperse them. They beat them on their heads, backs and legs. But no one was seriously injured.”

The witness asked not to be named so as not to attract the attention of the authorities.

Protests over chronic power outages began Sunday in the central city Mandalay and have spread to at least four other locations, challenging the new government of President Thein Sein, who has promised political reform.

PAKISTAN

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