Five killed, 80 injured in Jammu and Kashmir (Roundup)

August 25th, 2008 - 9:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Srinagar/Jammu, Aug 25 (IANS) Five people were killed and over 50 injured in a curfew-bound Kashmir valley where top separatist leaders were arrested Monday. Violence flared up in Jammu amid the simmering Amarnath land row leaving 30 protesters wounded.Four civilians and a paramilitary trooper were killed in clashes between protesters and security forces in the valley, where indefinite curfew was clamped Sunday morning to foil separatists’ proposed march to Srinagar’s Lal Chowk.

Curfew was also clamped in Kathua town of Jammu after incidents of violence and arson over the Amarnath land row that has had the state on the boil for the last three months sparking off communal tensions.

The current crisis in Jammu and Kashmir started against the allotment of 40 hectares of forest land to a Hindu shrine board that manages the annual pilgrimage to Amarnath cave shrine in south Kashmir Himalayas.

The land allotment was revoked July 1 following protests in the Muslim-majority Kashmir Valley, triggering counter agitation in the Hindu-dominated Jammu region.

Some 45 people have been killed, mostly in firing by the police and paramilitary forces, during the turmoil.

The unrest has turned into a mass separatist campaign in the valley, resurrecting demands for Kashmir’s secession from India.

In many parts of the valley, crowds Monday took to streets defying the curfew, forcing the security forces to open fire in north Kashmir Narbal, Sumbal and Handwara towns and in south Kashmir Pulwama district.

According to the police, paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) troopers opened fire on protesters after one of them fired a shot in north Kashmir Hajin town of Bandipora district, 40 km from Srinagar.

“As the police and the CRPF were warning the protesters to disperse, somebody from the mob fired at them injuring two paramilitary troopers and two policemen,” a police officer told IANS.

“The CRPF fired at the mob in retaliation in which 15 people were injured. The injured were evacuated to a hospital in Srinagar city,” said the police officer.

According to the police, one of the troopers succumbed to injuries in the hospital. But CRPF spokesman Prabhakar Tripathy told IANS that none of the troopers injured in Monday’s violence died.

A student protester, identified as Shahid-ul-Islam, was killed in Sadrakote in Sumbal town, the police said, adding another was killed in Narbal, 12 km from here on the Srinagar-Uri-Muzaffarabad road, when security forces opened fire to disperse protesters marching towards city centre Lal Chowk.

One more agitator was killed and 23 were injured when security forces fired at demonstrators marching from south Kashmir Pulwama district.

A “stray bullet”, the police said, killed a woman identified as Fahmida in north Kashmir Handwara town. Seven people were injured during the protests there.

Inspector general of police (Kashmir zone) said the administration had taken no decision on relaxing curfew Tuesday.

Earlier in the day, Yasin Malik, chief of the pro-independence Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, was arrested here when he attempted to march towards Lal Chowk for the planned sit-in to internationalise the Kashmir dispute.

Chairmen of respective factions of the separatist Hurriyat Conference Syed Ali Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq were detained from their homes in Hyderpora and Nigeen late Sunday.

The separatist leaders had put up a massive rally here Friday at the Eidgah grounds in the old city area where thousands offered prayers in response to a call by the Hurriyat Conference.

Violence and arson marked the shutdown in Jammu Monday and traffic was off the roads following a call given by the Shri Amarnath Sangharsh Samiti (SASS), which spearheads the agitation for return of the piece of land to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB).

Police lobbed teargas shells and opened fire to disperse people who were taking out processions demanding early restoration of land to the SASB.

An indefinite curfew was imposed in Kathua town, 80 km southwest of Jammu, following incidents of arson and violence.

People in the town came out on the streets, enraged over police action against those marching in processions to protest communal violence in Muslim-majority Poonch district.

Senior Superintendent of Police Manmohan Singh was among the 30 injured in Jammu violence.

After facing cane charge by police, protesters in the Hindu-dominated Kathua set afire two shops belonging to minority community members.

People were angry over the mob violence in curfew-bound Poonch where more than 70 shops were burnt or damaged in communal clashes during the past few days.

Despite three rounds of talks between the governor’s panel and the SASS Saturday and a broad understanding between the two sides, there was no end to the agitation in sight.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court in Delhi Monday allowed the Jammu and Kashmir government to continue curbing SMS messages in the state.

A bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan extended its Aug 5 order suspending a Jammu and Kashmir High Court ruling, which had lifted a state government order banning SMS messages.

The ban was imposed on a plea to check unscrupulous elements from misusing them and spreading rumour and communal disharmony.

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