Uneasy calm continues in curfew-bound Kashmir Valley (Second Lead)

August 26th, 2008 - 9:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Srinagar, Aug 26 (IANS) An uneasy calm prevailed in the Kashmir Valley amid indefinite curfew for the third day Tuesday, a day after seven people were killed and at least 70 injured in police and paramilitary firing. The day passed off peacefully though small groups of protesters defied the restrictions at a few places.

Curfew was imposed in the valley Sunday morning to foil a planned sit-in by separatists in Lal Chowk, the city centre of Srinagar.

There was no mass curfew violation as compared to Monday, when widespread violations occurred across the valley, resulting in the death of seven protesters and injuries to over 70 others, including civilians and security men.

“Barring three incidents of curfew violations by small groups of stone pelting people at Bemina chowk in Srinagar city and Achabal and Dooru towns of Anantnag district, there was complete calm in the valley,” a police officer told IANS.

“The situation was incident free. We are assessing the situation for cyclic relaxation of curfew at many places Wednesday, but that depends upon how the law and order situation behaves,” the police officer said.

According to sources, arrests of middle-rung separatist activists continued.

The publication of newspapers remained suspended for the second consecutive day Tuesday, as their managements said staff and reporters could not reach offices because of the strict curfew restrictions.

The coordination committee of the two factions of the separatist Hurriyat Conference called for a general shutdown Tuesday against the arrest of three senior separatist leaders, Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik.

These separatist leaders were arrested here MOnday to prevent their participation in the march to Lal Chowk.

The violent protests in the Kashmir Valley have followed a dispute over 40 hectares of forest land allotted to a Hindu shrine board. The allotment was later revoked.

Around 50 people have died, mostly in police and paramilitary firing, in the nearly three-month long 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 of Muslim Kashmiris.

Tens of thousands of Kashmiri Muslims shouting anti-India and pro-freedom slogans joined marches during the last fortnight, which were called by separatists to internationalise the Kashmir dispute.

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