Saturday, November 22, 2008

Indian-controlled Kashmir: 50 hurt in Srinagar clashes

The News International, Saturday, November 22, 2008

HELD SRINAGAR: Nearly 50 people were hurt in clashes between government forces and anti-India demonstrators in occupied Kashmir on Friday, after troops sealed off neighbourhoods to stifle protests against the New Delhi’s rule.

Kashmiris could not offer Juma prayers at Jamia Masjid as the authorities sealed all entry points preventing the Muslims to enter the mosque. Media reports quoting official sources in Srinagar said no Friday prayers could be offered at the Jamia Masjid due to imposition of undeclared curfew.

Separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq had called on Kashmiris to stage a strike and hold anti-India demonstrations to “protest the arrest and harassment of pro-freedom leaders”. Afterwards, hundreds of Muslims hit the streets in major towns of Muslim-majority Kashmir valley, following Friday prayers.

Police used batons and teargas and eventually fired shots to disperse the protesters who were chanting, “We want freedom” and “Go, India go,” witnesses and doctors said. “Nearly 50 people were injured across the valley, including some security personnel,” a police officer said, demanding not to be named.

He said one of the protesters was shot in the legs. The clashes came after authorities overnight deployed troops in Srinagar and told residents to stay indoors. “We’re restricting civilian movement to prevent any law and order problems,” police officer Pervez Ahmed told AFP. The authorities have detained over the past six weeks more than two dozen prominent separatists and scores of activists to prevent demonstrations against state elections being held in occupied Kashmir.

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