25 injured in anti-Israel protests in Kashmir (Lead)

January 2nd, 2009 - 10:49 pm ICT by IANS  

Srinagar, Jan 2 (IANS) At least 25 people were injured Friday as protests against Israel’s air strikes on Palestinians in Gaza rocked the old Srinagar city and other towns in the Kashmir Valley Friday. The police resorted to baton-charge to quell the mob in the capital city, officials said.Hundreds of protestors, majority of them youth, took to the streets in several old city areas in the afternoon after the congregational Friday prayers.

Shouting anti-Israeli and anti-US slogans, the crowds pelted stones at the police and paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel, who responded by firing teargas shells and used batons to quell the violence, a senior police official here said.

“Where are the champions of civil rights and liberties? Why are they silent when innocent, unarmed Muslims are killed in hundreds by Israel?” shouted an angry protester.

According to the police, the protests spread to other old city areas and a group of angry youth attacked the Nowhatta police station with stones and bricks.

The clashes that continued till late evening left 25 wounded, two of them seriously. At least three photo-journalists and videographers were also injured in the baton charge, a police officer said.

Reports from other major towns said hundreds of people protested against the Israeli strikes and called upon the world community to stop what they called “genocide of the Palestinian civilians in Gaza”, the police officer said.

Thousands of people in Srinagar and other towns also offered funeral prayers in absentia for the victims of the Israeli bombings in Gaza.

The state administration has made elaborate security arrangements to maintain law and order in the city, official sources said.

The Imams (clerics) in various mosques across the valley strongly condemned the relentless Israeli strikes on Gaza and accused the US of supporting the Israeli government’s “genocide policy”.

The Muslim majority Kashmir valley has traditionally had close emotional links with the people of Palestine and any major development in Arab-Israel ties has always drawn a response in the valley.

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