The authorities earlier this year began investigating reports that police had been killing civilians in staged gun battles and then saying those slain were fighters so that they could claim substantial rewards and earn promotions.
 
Residents in the predominantly Muslim territory, where anti-India sentiment runs deep, have for years complained that civilians were being killed by the security forces.
 
Seven charged
 
The officers charged on Tuesday were allegedly involved in the death of Abdur Rahman Padder, a 35-year-old carpenter, who disappeared from Srinagar, the Himalayan region's main city, on December 8.
 
Kashmiris have long complained that security
forces often kill innocent civilians [AFP]
He was allegedly killed by police later that evening.
 
At the time, police identified Padder as Abu Hafiz of Pakistan and said he was a member of Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, one of the main armed, separatist Muslim groups in Kashmir.
 
Officials maintained that he had been killed in a shootout with officers in the small town of Ganderbal, about 20km northeast of Srinagar, and that an assault rifle and grenade had been recovered from his body.
 
Missing mobile
 
Soon afterwards, Padder's father filed a missing person's report, and officers investigating the case traced the dead man's missing mobile to a police officer.
 
The authorities then exhumed Padder's body and used DNA tests to confirm his identity, casting doubt on the official account of his death.
 
Since the revelations surrounding Padder's death have become public, the bodies of at least four other civilians believed to have been killed in similar circumstances have been exhumed.
 
The results of those investigations are still pending.
 
The policemen charged in connection with Padder's death include two senior officers.