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 Curfew in Indian Kashmir ahead of independence rally - Reuters

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PostSubject: Curfew in Indian Kashmir ahead of independence rally - Reuters   Mon Aug 25, 2008 9:25 am

Salient points:
-Government of India is justifying the arrest of Hurriyat leaders by claiming that their arrest is for their own safety!

Quote :
Curfew in Indian Kashmir ahead of independence rally
Sun Aug 24, 2008 4:17am EDT
SRINAGAR, India (Reuters) - Authorities imposed an indefinite curfew in Indian Kashmir on Sunday ahead of a separatist rally, the latest in a series of protests against Indian rule in the disputed Himalayan region.

In the past two weeks Kashmir has seen some of the biggest pro-independence demonstrations since a separatist revolt against New Delhi's rule broke out in the region in 1989.

Separatist leaders plan to address a huge rally on Monday in Lal chowk in the heart of Srinagar, the summer capital of Kashmir, where a three-day strike called by separatists began on Saturday.

"As a precautionary measure curfew has been imposed from 4 a.m. today," a government statement said, adding there were threats to the lives of some of the separatist leaders. It did not give any details.

Separatists rubbished the government claim and said Monday's rally would go ahead despite the curfew.

"In fact government is trying to target us, they killed Sheikh Aziz and scores of innocent people," said hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani. "Now they are trying to suppress our peaceful struggle."

Sheikh Aziz, a senior separatist leader, was among 23 Muslim protesters killed by police over the past two weeks in Kashmir. Over 500 people have been injured in clashes.

The protests were sparked after a dispute with the region's Hindus over transfer of land to a Hindu shrine trust, bolstering separatist sentiments in Kashmir.

Geelani said over two dozen activists of the region's main separatist alliance, All Parties Hurriyat (Freedom) Conference, have been arrested in overnight police raids.

Thousands of police and troops were patrolling the region's empty streets to enforce the curfew. Loudspeaker-mounted police vehicles were asking people to remain indoors.

On Saturday evening, hundreds of Muslims took to the streets in Srinagar carrying torches and shouting "Go India go! We want freedom."

The land dispute began after the state government promised to give a forest tract to a Hindu trust that runs the cave shrine of Amarnath. Many Muslims were enraged, leading the government to rescind its decision.

That in turn angered Hindus in Jammu, where thousands have protested the revocation of the land order and criticized the government for "pandering to separatists".

At least 10 people have also been killed in weeks of protests Jammu, where Hindus attacked trucks carrying supplies to the Kashmir Valley and often blocked the region's highway, the only surface link with the rest of India.

Kashmiri Muslims, challenging what they said was an economic blockade, then took to the streets, in protests that revived separatist sentiments and morphed into an independence call.

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