Kashmir shutdown continues for sixth day (Lead)

June 6th, 2009 - 11:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Srinagar, June 6 (IANS) Educational institutions, banks, government offices, shops and other businesses in the Kashmir Valley remained closed for the sixth consecutive day Saturday as clashes between the security forces and irate residents continued over the alleged rape and murder of two women last week.
Life remained paralysed and roads were deserted as the shutdown called by separatist Hurriyat Conference entered its sixth day against against the rape and murder of two south Kashmir women allegedly by the security forces.

Tension was palpable in the old city areas, the stronghold of separatists, where paramilitary troopers fired warning shots and used batons to disperse a mob of youth who were throwing stones at them.

People alleged that the troopers smashed the window panes of Jamia Masjid in the old city and roughed up some youths.

Police reinforcements were rushed to the area to quell protests and bring the situation under control.

One person has been killed and over 100 people have been injured in the violent protests since Monday.

Though the level of violence was lower Saturday, stone throwing incidents were reported from some uptown areas where people clashed with police and paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) troopers.

Hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who continues to remain under house arrest, Saturday evening called for a march to south Kashmir’s Shopian town, where two women - Neelofar Jan, 22 and her kin Asiya Jan, 17 - were found dead May 30 in a stream near their house.

People are alleging that security forces are involved in the crime that has triggered massive protests in the entire Valley.

The hawkish separatist leader asked the people to march to Shopian town, 60 km from here, Monday and resume their normal activities Tuesday.

In a statement issued here, he asked lawyers, students, government employees and traders to stage protest demonstrations in the coming week.

The state government has announced a judicial probe into the alleged rape and murder to be conducted by a retired high court judge, even as the initial findings suggested the women were not raped.

Workers of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) held rallies at various district headquarters Saturday demanding the revocation of special powers given to the armed forces in the wake of Jammu and Kashmir being declared a disturbed area.

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