Protests: Kashmir cries out for freedom on Eid

Thousands participate in protest demonstrations in Sopore and Srinagar after Eid prayers.


Afp August 31, 2011

SRINAGAR, INDIA: Thousands of demonstrators on Wednesday staged noisy anti-India protests in revolt-hit Kashmir after saying their Eid prayers to mark the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

Thousands of Muslims poured into the streets, shouting, "We want freedom!" and "Allah is great," after offering Eid prayers in the northern town of Sopore.

The protests were led by hardline separatist Syed Ali Geelani following the Eid prayers. Geelani addressed a huge gathering in Sopore's main square, urging India to end its "occupation of Kashmir".

"People of India are our brothers. We have no animosity towards them. We only urge India to end its occupation of Kashmir," Geelani said, as mainly young Kashmiri men chanted: "Go India, go back!"

Sopore was once the bastion of pro-Pakistan militants but in recent years the guerrilla presence has lessened following the start of a peace process between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan.

In Srinagar, meanwhile, police used tear gas to disperse crowds after another top separatist and leading cleric Mirwaiz Umar Farooq addressed thousands of worshippers as pro-freedom slogans rang out.

Farooq later urged India's leading anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare to "also voice concern over the deteriorating human rights situation in Kashmir".

"People like Hazare should help us in ending human rights violations by troops in our state," Farooq told the crowd.

Anti-India sentiments run high in Kashmir where security forces are often accused of human rights violations by the local population. Indian officials say they investigate every claim and punish the guilty.

Hazare ended his 12-day fast last weekend when the Indian government conceded to the former army truck driver's demands for tough anti-corruption legislation.

Kashmir is in the grip of a more than 20-year-old insurgency against Indian rule that has left more than 47,000 people dead.

Indian Kashmir remains under heavy military control but this summer has not seen the cycle of violence and strict curfews that hit the disputed Himalayan region in recent years.

 

COMMENTS (25)

G. Din | 10 years ago | Reply @My Name is Khan: "Imagine if India and Pakistan (I know we’ll never give up on the issue) gave up Kashmir and let it be independent. Kashmir would just go bankrupt and be a totally useless country with no real infrastructure, no educational institutions to boast of, etc. " No, it is not a matter of pride at all. Kashmir is legally a part of India, decided according to the ground rules set out for the purposes of accession of states and agreed to by the leaderships of both India and Pakistan at the time. Kashmir confirmed that association for 42 years at every election until Pakistan started its old mischief again in 1989. Besides, can you even imagine what a security nightmare it will be for India if Kashmir were to be given "azaadi"? A weak state is a great temptation for mischievous powers around it. India will never allow such a security problem to be added to the dangerous neighourhood we already live in. As it is, Kashmir problem is about a sliver of land where Muslim hardliners live. Do not ever think that this problem pertains to the whole state of Jammu and Kashmir. If push came to shove, Jammu, Ladakh and a good part of Kashmir province will part company with that sliver of land. Even now people living in those areas are chafing at having to endure Kashmiri Muslim hegemony. The only reason they are not articulating it is their deep-seated patriotism! It would be foolish to assume that fate of Kashmir will be decided by a few hundred paid stone pelters!
Tony Singh | 10 years ago | Reply

@GetRidOfFeudalPolitics: Th answer lies in my first comment itself. We also want our homes and properties back. Afterall all our forefathers had lived in Pakistan for generations and one fine morning they were asked to leave because of their religion. Why this special treatment for muslim Kashmiis alone? Just because they follow the religion you follow? The solution to this is to do what China did in Tibet and you did in Baluchistan, KP and POK.

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