11 dead as Jammu and Kashmir burns, PM calls for another meet (Second Lead)

August 12th, 2008 - 5:41 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

Srinagar/Jammu/New Delhi, Aug 12 (IANS) Trouble spiralled out of control in Jammu and Kashmir Tuesday with at least 11 people killed and scores injured as crowds defied curfew to trawl the streets and clash with troops in many towns in the valley while Kishtwar in the plains teetered on the edge of a communal clash. In New Delhi, a worried Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called for another all-party meeting Wednesday to hammer out a viable formula that could be acceptable to both Jammu and the Kashmir Valley. Party leaders, who had met last week, met again Tuesday to discuss the issue but to no avail.

“The leaders met Tuesday but could not arrive at a workable formula or solution that would appease the people,” said a senior government functionary.

For the last two months, both regions have been locked in unparalleled strife along communal lines over the transfer and subsequent revocation of 40 hectares of land in north Kashmir to the Amarnath board that manages the pilgrimage to the shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva.

This burning issue has set off an inexorable wave of protests, shutdowns and violence first in the Kashmir Valley, then in Jammu — and now back in the valley - paralysing the state.

As trouble spread like the proverbial wildfire across the valley, incidents of firing were reported from Srinagar, from Lasjan on the outskirts of this summer capital as well as from the towns of Bandipora and Nagabal.

In Bandipora, three people were killed when the army fired at people defying curfew. CRPF troopers also fired at a mob in the Nagabal area of north Kashmir Ganderbal district killing one person on the spot.

One child was killed when the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) opened fire to disperse an unruly mob at Rainawari in the old Srinagar area. There was trouble in the Kralpora area just outside Srinagar as well where one person was killed.

In Lasjan, three people were killed when the armed guard of senior People’s Democratic Party (PDP) leader Javaid Mustafa Mir fired in panic when the former minister was attacked by a mob.

Elsewhere in the summer capital, mobs torched some houses and destroyed vehicles in their rage against the economic blockade of the valley following the prolonged protests in Jammu.

While thousands of protesters reached the residence of the moderate Hurriyat Conference chief Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, breaking the cordon imposed by the security forces who had been keeping him under house arrest, many others did the same to let Syed Ali Geelani, head of the hardline Hurriyat, out of his Hyderpora home.

Both led marches to the Jamia Mosque — where the funeral of Hurriyat leader Sheikh Abdul Aziz was being held.

A large procession led by the separatist Shia leader Aga Hassan Badgami also marched towards the Jamia mosque from Badgam district. Aziz was killed along with four others while leading a huge procession towards Muzaffarabad in Pakistan administered Kashmir in an effort to neutralise the valley’s economic blockade.

Doctors in city hospitals said more than 70 people had been admitted with injuries.

On Monday evening, indefinite curfew had been imposed throughout the valley — in the summer capital Srinagar and in the district headquarters of Baramulla, Bandipora, Kupwara, Ganderbal, Anantnag, Pulwama, Shopian, Badgam and Kulgam.

And parts of Jammu raged as well.

Two people were killed and several injured when police opened fire in Kishtwar town to contain a communal clash as crowds defied curfew to fight pitched battles and loot shops.

Hindus and Muslims clashed in complete defiance of curfew restrictions imposed in the Muslim majority town.

“The situation was slipping out of hand and the police had to open fire in which at least two people — Mohammad Maqbool and Abdul Aziz — were killed. A few others were injured,” an official told IANS.

Curfew was imposed in Kishtwar Monday night after two Hindu houses were torched and mobs pelted stones while shouting anti-government slogans, he said.

However, the situation in the rest of Jammu province was calm.

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