Two killed in fresh violence in Kashmir (Lead)

August 27th, 2008 - 8:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Srinagar, Aug 27 (IANS) Two protesters were killed in the troubled Kashmir Valley during relaxation in curfew, lifted in a phased manner Wednesday nearly four days after its was imposed.The two demonstrators were killed when security forces opened fire at stone pelting protesters in north Kashmir Handwara town and in central Kashmir Soibugh, the hometown of Pakistan-based militant commander Syed Salahuddin.

People in Handwara town, 76 km from here, of Kupwara district took to streets during the relaxation in curfew and resorted to stone pelting at security forces.

The forces opened fire in which one protester was killed, sources said.

In a similar incident in Soibugh of Badgam district, the sources said, a youth was killed after security forces fired at an angry mob that was throwing stones at them.

“We have reports of firing incidents in Handwara and Soibugh, in which two civilians were killed,” a police officer said here.

“We are ascertaining the facts. Initial reports said angry mobs at both the places gathered during the relaxation period and started indulging in violence against the deployed security forces,” the police officer said.

Srinagar remained calm during curfew relaxation as people in this summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir spent the time to buy essential commodities.

The curfew was imposed in the troubled Kashmir Valley 4 a.m. Sunday to foil the separatist march to city centre Lal Chowk scheduled Monday.

In the uptown areas of Srinagar, curfew was relaxed for two hours from 3 p.m.

“People came out and bought edibles, medicines etc. Shops selling essential supplies also opened up in the uptown area of the city during this period,” an official said.

There was, however, no relaxation in curfew in the areas falling under Maisuma police station from where Yasin Malik, the chairman of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, was arrested Sunday.

Curfew was also relaxed from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the old city Soura and outskirts Zakoora police stations.

“In Soura, there was a small clash between the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and some protesters in which two troopers were injured,” a police officer said.

In the central Badgam district, authorities relaxed curfew from 10.30 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. in rural areas except Badgam main town where it was relaxed between 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. In Kupwara town it was relaxed from 10 a.m. to 12 noon.

No untoward incident occurred in north Kashmir’s Ganderbal district and in south Kashmir’s Kulgam and Shopian districts.

In the sensitive old city areas of Srinagar, the curfew was lifted from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

The decision to relax curfew in a phased manner was taken at a high level meeting chaired by Governor N.N. Vohra Wednesday.

Jammu and Kashmir is witnessing widespread violent protests for more than two and a half months nows. The protests were triggered following a dispute over 40 hectares of forest land allotted to the Hindu Amarnath shrine board. The land transfer was later cancelled. When the land allotment decision was reversed July 1 following a Muslim backlash in the valley, 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 Muslim-majority Kashmir Valley and Hindu extremists in Jammu.

The unrest also breathed life into the separatist movement in Muslim-dominated Kashmir which witnessed huge rallies during the last fortnight. The largest demonstration in two decades took place Friday when tens of thousands of Kashmiris, including women, gathered in an open area of the Eidgah grounds in the old city to demand “freedom” from India.

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