20 injured in Kashmir protests (Lead)

October 24th, 2008 - 10:13 pm ICT by IANS  

Srinagar, Oct 24 (IANS) At least 20 people, including a cameraman of a national news TV channel, were injured in protests after the Friday prayers in the Kashmir valley that was hit by a shutdown.Hundreds of people took to the streets in capital Srinagar and other towns immediately after the Friday prayers here. They shouted anti-India slogans.

Protestors clashed with the police and central reserve police force (CRPF) personnel here and in south Kashmir.

The police and CRPF fired tear gas shells and baton-charged to disperse the crowd pelting stones.

The police said that 20 people, including Tariq Ahmad, senior cameraman of the NDTV news channel, were injured in Friday’s clashes.

Moderate Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Moulvi Umar Farooq was not allowed to come out of his home and he couldn’t offer his Friday prayers in Jamia Mosque in old city.

“People of Kashmir have absolutely no interest in the poll process. The government should read the mood and the ground realities. By conducting this exercise the government is only adding to the problems of the locals,” the Mirwaiz said in a statement.

Life in the Kashmir valley came to a standstill Friday in response to the Hurriyat Conference’s call for a shutdown to protest the arrest of separatist leaders and the UN’s “indifference” to Kashmir.

Businesses were shut as were government offices and educational institutions and traffic, except for a few private vehicles, was off the road as the strike called by senior separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani and endorsed by the joint coordination committee of both the Hurriyat groups came into effect.

Heavy paramilitary and police reinforcements were moved into sensitive downtown localities and security restrictions were being strictly enforced.

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