Muslim separatists in Indian-controlled Kashmir have called off protests until Friday but tensions remained high as thousands of Hindu protesters took to the streets in the state's Hindu dominated Jammu region.
Calm returned to the Indian-administered
The All Parties Hurriyat (Freedom) Conference (APHC), the main separatist alliance in the state fighting for Kashmiri independence, has suspended strikes until Friday to allow people to resume daily life.
Residents in the state’s summer capital of
“We have been confined to the house for the past 17 days without any supplies. There was no milk, no vegetables,” Autar Krishan Motan, a resident in
The separatist party said the future course of action will be decided on Friday after prayers.
“We have no choice but to continue protests until Kashmir wins its autonomy,” Ghulam Hassan Majrooh, spokesperson for the APHC told
The Muslim separatists launched protests earlier this month, demanding access to
"We are part of
On Monday, hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani called for Kashmir’s merger with
“We are Pakistanis,” Geelani told the large crowds chanting anti-India and pro-Pakistan slogans, according to the local media. “There is no other solution to the Kashmir issue other than merger with
Tens of thousands of people led by Muslim separatist leaders gathered in a rare rally in
The protest march, one of the largest since 1989, was organized to urge the UN to intervene and recognize the State’s right to autonomy.
“The situation is tense,” says Sajjad Lone, a separatist leader from the People’s conference party (part of the APHC alliance). “The only way out is to restore the trade route in question and the government needs to launch a structured dialogue process. The situation is beyond the control of politicians, Kashmiris are calling the shots now,” Lone told
Communal tension flared two months ago after the state government allocated land to a trust managing a Hindu shrine in
The government then reversed its decision, which enraged Hindus in the Hindu-dominated
“The Muslim population doesn’t care about the shrine issue anymore,” according to Lone. “The ongoing protests are mainly for
His death led to one of the biggest separatist protests since a revolt against Indian rule broke out two decades ago.
Hindu protesters court arrest
On Tuesday, one day after the massive Muslim rally, thousands of angry Hindu protesters, including women, gathered outside various police stations across the
Police detained thousands of protesters and drove them to jail after they crammed police station buildings. People pelted stones and clashed with police who used batons and fired tear gas to break up the crowd.
“The situation is obviously undesirable,” says Indian analyst Uday Bhaskar from the Delhi-based Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses. “The government is trying to cool things down but a certain amount of damage has been done. It’s like resurrecting the past we thought had been buried,” he said.
“What’s surprising this time is the intensity of response, huge crowds of people have responded to this fight for independence,” Bhaskar added.
Date created : 2008-08-19