Land row: Policemen among dozens injured in Kashmir (Lead)

August 8th, 2008 - 8:42 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Ali G

Srinagar, Aug 8 (IANS) Dozens of protesters and policemen were injured Friday in clashes as security forces foiled attempts by demonstrators to reach the United Nations Military Observers Group (UNMOG) office here. The marchers in Srinagar, where life was crippled due to a separatist-sponsored shutdown, were protesting alleged harassment of Muslims in the Hindu-majority Jammu region.

Stir over a plot of forest land, first transferred to and then reclaimed from the management board of Amarnath cave shrine, has brought the Kashmir Valley and Jammu close to a communal edge.

While Muslims in the valley were opposed to the land transfer, Hindus in the plains have been protesting and demanding the return of the land to the temple trust.

At least 15 people have been killed during the more-than-five-week-long agitation in both Kashmir as well as Jammu.

Muslims, who are in minority in Jammu, allege that Hindu protesters were harassing them provoking the Kashmiris to hold demonstrations in their favour.

After Friday prayers, procession was taken out from Jamia Masjid in the old city towards the UNMOG office in uptown Sonwar area.

“The protesters were stopped midway as they resorted to heavy stone pelting at police and paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF),” a police officer said.

Police had to use batons and tear smoke shells to disperse the protesters.

Dozens of protesters and security men sustained injuries in the clashes those also occurred at Nowpora, Nowhatta, Rajouri Kadal and some other places in the old city.

The protesters were shouting slogans in favour of the minority Muslim community in the Jammu region and against Hindu fundamentalist groups like the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Shiv Sena.

In south Kashmir’s Anantnag district agitated protesters tried to ransack the office of the district magistrate.

Reports of protests after Friday prayers also came in from Bandipore, Pulwama, Uri, Sopore and some other towns of the valley.

A protest rally was also held in the north Kashmir border town of Karnah in Kupwara district.

Police Friday detained Abdul Gani Bhat, spokesman and former chairman of the moderate Hurriyat group.

Other senior Hurriyat leaders including Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Syed Ali Geelani and Shabeer Ahmad Shah have been put under house arrest to prevent their participation in the march to the UNMOG office.

Srinagar city and all other major towns of the valley observed shutdown following a call the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) whose chairman Yasin Malik was hospitalised after his condition deteriorated Thursday after an indefinite fast since Tuesday.

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