Separatists call for Kashmir shutdown, poll panel calls meeting

September 7th, 2008 - 9:40 pm ICT by IANS  

Srinagar, Sep 7 (IANS) Separatist leaders Sunday called for a shutdown to be observed Monday when the Election Commission of India will hold meeting of all mainstream political parties here for assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir.Members of coordination committee of two factions of the separatist Hurriyat Conference met at the residence of hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani to decide on the programme for the week starting Monday.

“There shall be a general shutdown tomorrow (Monday) against the all-party meet called by the Election Commission of India to explore the possibility of elections in the state,” Geelani, chairman of his faction of the Hurriyat, told media.

“The shutdown has also been called against the brutal killing of a youth in Nowhatta Saturday by the police and the decision of the government to detain and shift senior separatist leaders to jails outside the valley,” Geelani said.

He asked people to resume normal activities of life Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to be followed by peaceful protests Friday this week.

Representatives of the two Hurriyat factions, the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, traders federation, chambers of commerce and industry and government employees co-ordination committee attended the meeting.

Elections are due in October in the state currently under governor’s rule since July 11 when the previous Congress-led government was toppled after the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) pulled out of the alliance following differences over the Amarnath land row.

The land row has had the state on the boil amid conflicting claims over a piece of forest land allotted to Shri Amarnath Shrine Board that manages annual pilgrimage to a cave shrine in south Kashmmir Himalayas.

Nearly 50 people have died, mostly in police and paramilitary firing, during the last two months of protests over the land row and subsequent disruption of supply essential commodities due to protests in Jammu. The issue reinforced separatist sentiment among Muslim Kashmiris, who have been rallying for freedom since last month.

A nine-day long curfew was imposed Aug 24 across the valley to foil separatists’ rallies.

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