Unrest brings Kashmir to standstill for eighth day (Lead)

June 8th, 2009 - 9:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Srinagar, June 8 (IANS) Normal life remained paralysed and violent protests continued unabated in the Kashmir Valley for the eighth day Monday as six more people, including four civilians, were injured in the fresh wave of unrest over the alleged rape and murder of two women.
Educational institutions, banks, government offices, shops and other businesses in the entire valley remained closed for the eighth consecutive day Monday.

Four people were injured in fresh clashes between security forces and an irate mob in south Kashmir’s Shopian district where two women were found dead May 30. Locals allege that the women - Neelofar Jan, 22, and her kin Asiya Jan, 17, - were gangraped and murdered by the security forces.

A forensic science laboratory report has confirmed the rape and the murder and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has ordered a judicial probe to identify the culprits.

One person has been killed and over 100 people have been injured in the violent protests since the incident triggering a fresh wave of unrest in the Valley, where the tourist season had started to pick up.

Tension was palpable in Shopian Monday where separatists had called a march to “express sympathies with the family of the victims”. Before his arrest Saturday, hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani had asked the people to resume their normal activities from Tuesday and called for a march Monday to Shopian town.

While all roads to Shopian where barricaded and heavy security was put in place to prevent the people from marching to the town, some groups tried to break the security cordon.

A senior police officer said security forces opened fire to disperse a stone pelting mob at Sofanoman village on the outskirts of the town resulting in bullet injuries to four protestors.

The injured were evacuated to a hospital. Two paramilitary troopers were also wounded in the clash.

Another strong mob also made attempts to enter the town. They were also chased away by the security forces using tearsmoke and baton charges.

Authorities moved reinforcements of police and paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) here to foil the separatist attempts to march to Shopian.

Strict security restrictions are in force in summer capital Srinagar to stop the pedestrian and vehicular movement.

Most of the senior separatist leaders, including Geelani, have been either arrested or confined to their homes to prevent them from leading protests.

Geelani, who is spearheading the current wave of unrest, has been taken to an unknown destination by police.

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