Separatists surprised over Pakistan’s ’silence on Kashmir’ (Lead)

August 28th, 2008 - 8:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Srinagar, Aug 28 (IANS) Worried over the “well-being” of its leaders arrested earlier this week, separatist Hurriyat Conference Thursday said it was “surprised at the silence of Pakistan over Kashmir”.”We are seriously concerned about the well-being of our leaders arrested by the authorities here,” said the joint coordination committee of the moderate and hardline factions of the Hurriyat conference in a statement issued here.

Senior separatist leaders, Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik were arrested Sunday to prevent their participation in proposed march to city centre Lal Chowk Monday in this summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir.

Spokesperson of the coordination committee Masarat Alam blamed India for using force against what he called “internationally accepted peaceful protests in Kashmir”.

The co-ordination committee asked the people to hold peaceful demonstrations after midday prayers across the valley Friday.

Alam, a right hand man of Geelani, who advocates Jammu and Kashmir’s merger with Pakistan, said the separatist conglomerate was surprised at the “silence of Pakistan over the developments in Kashmir”.

Meanwhike, curfew in the valley was relaxed in a phased manner again Thursday, which passed off peacefully except for a protest in the uptown Maisuma locality - the neighbourhood of Yasin Malik, chairman of the pro-independence Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front.

“Protesters pelted stones and raised slogans in Maisuma during the curfew relaxation period here. They also burnt tyres,” police said.

In all other places in Srinagar city and elsewhere in the Valley, people busied themselves buying food and other essential items of life during the relaxation period.

Two protesters were killed and 10 others, including three security personnel, were injured during the curfew relaxation in the valley Wednesday.

The curfew was imposed in the valley in the wee hours Sunday to foil separatist march to city centre Lal Chowk Monday. The curfew has been relaxed but in phased manner Wednesday and Thursday across the valley.

Jammu and Kashmir has been witnessing widespread violent demonstrations for more than two and a half months now. The protests were triggered following a dispute over 40 hectares of forest land “diverted” to the Hindu Amarnath shrine board. The diversion order was later cancelled July 1 following a backlash in the Muslim-majority Kashmir Valley. When the order was reversed, Hindus staged demonstrations, blocking the movement of goods to the valley from the Hindu-majority Jammu region.

More than 45 people have died, mostly in police and paramilitary firing, in the turmoil, which has been stoked by both separatist leaders in the Valley and Hindu extremists in Jammu.

Also Thursday, the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service Thursday began its fortnightly run across the Line of Control (LoC) - the de-facto border between India and Pakistan. Authorities had made announcements here that the tickets for the bus would be treated as curfew passes so that passengers could reach the bus stand.

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