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Kashmir under curfew ahead of fresh protests

Latest update : 2008-08-24

India imposed a curfew on Kashmir ahead of Monday's scheduled pro-independence demonstration, the fourth organized by Muslim separatists in two weeks to oppose Indian military rule in the region.

Thousands of Indian security forces were Sunday enforcing a strict curfew in Kashmir, a day ahead of a planned rally by Muslim separatists in the city, officials said.
   
"Curfew is in force. Please don't come out of your homes," announced policemen through loud-speakers fitted on police vehicles across the summer capital Srinagar.
   
Residents said the announcements were made around 4 a.m local time after which thousands of security personnel started patrolling the streets.
   
Muslim separatists, opposed to Indian rule in the region, have held four massive pro-freedom demonstrations during the past two weeks, reviving calls for independence in the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley.
   
They had announced plans to hold a rally on Monday in Srinagar's Lal Chowk, the historic city centre.
   
"The curfew has been imposed to pre-empt the rally," a Muslim police officer told AFP, requesting not to be named.
   
On Saturday, a general strike to protest India's rule in Kashmir brought the region to a halt. On Friday a huge rally was held in Srinagar's "Martyr's Cemetery" where leaders pledged to take the separatists movement to its logical conclusion.
   
The protest strike was to continue on Sunday, as overnight hundreds of Kashmiris took to the streets at several places in Srinagar with traditional hay torches chanting "we want freedom" and "Allah is Great."
   
The trouble was triggered by a state government plan announced in June to donate land to a Hindu shrine trust in the Kashmir valley. The decision was later reversed after massive Muslim protests, angering Hindus.
   
Since June, at least 31 Muslims and three Hindus have died in police firing on protesters and other violence in the Kashmir valley and mainly Hindu Jammu area.
  

Date created : 2008-08-24

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