Police, protesters clash in Indian Kashmir


Afp July 23, 2010

SRINAGAR: Security forces fired teargas at stone-throwing protesters in Indian Kashmir as fresh protests against Indian rule broke out Friday, police and witnesses said.

A major clash took place in the northern town of Kupwara, where hundreds of residents took to the streets in defiance of a strict curfew, prompting volleys of teargas shells and baton charges from police.

There were also sporadic clashes in Kashmir’s main city Srinagar, and the northern towns of Palhalan and Baramulla.

Earlier, security forces had sealed off neighbourhoods in Srinagar with barbed wire.

“There is no curfew but strict restrictions are in force in some sensitive parts of Srinagar,” police officer Pervez Ahmed said.

Muslim separatists had urged Kashmiris to march to a holy shrine for a protest rally, but the site was sealed off by police.

The Muslim-majority Kashmir Valley has been in turmoil since a 17-year-old student was killed on June 11 by a police tear-gas shell.

Since then, security forces have been accused of killing 16 more civilians – mostly teenagers – as they struggled to contain growing anti-India protests.

The region has been under curfew for most of the past six weeks, with a separatist-called strike adding to the disruption of normal life.

A two-decade insurgency by militants who oppose New Delhi’s rule in Indian Kashmir has claimed more than 47,000 lives, according to an official count. Human rights groups say the toll is twice as high.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 24th, 2010.

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