Tens of thousands of Muslims shout 'Indian forces go back'

Sheikh Aziz, a senior Kashmiri Muslim leader, was among at least 22 Muslim protesters killed when police opened fire this week during the big protest over Indian economic siege.

Tens of thousands of Muslims shout 'Indian forces go back'

Tens of thousands of Muslims marched in Kashmir on Saturday to pay homage to a Muslim leader killed by police in violent protests over a land row that is testing New Delhi's hold on the troubled region.

Sheikh Aziz, a senior Kashmiri Muslim leader, was among at least 22 Muslim protesters killed when police opened fire this week during the big protest over Indian economic siege.



Hindus in Kashmir's winter capital of Jammu, demanding the state government transfer forest land to a Hindu shrine trust, have attacked Muslim's lorries carrying supplies to the Kashmir valley.

On Saturday, protesters carrying black and green Islamic flags headed to Pampore, Aziz's hometown. Aziz was a leader of Kashmir's main Muslim alliance, the All Parties Hurriyat (Freedom) Conference.

"There is no god but Allah, Indian forces go back," the protesters shouted.

More than 180 protesters were also wounded when police fired at them. Police closed a highway to Pakistan which the traders tried to use to ferry farm products they said were rotting because of the disruption of trade with the rest of India.

Muslims tried to march towards Pakistan-controlled Kashmir to end the economic blockade of the Valley in the wake of the Amarnath land row.

Indian police detained more than 100 fruit growers, deflated the tyres of trucks carrying apples and pears and shut markets in Srinagar, where schools have been closed for the past eight days, a senior police officer said.

A dispute over land allocated to Hindu pilgrims visiting a shrine in Kashmir has snowballed into full scale anti-India protests, uniting separatists and reviving calls for Kashmiri independence.

The crisis in Kashmir began after the state government promised to give Kashmiri forest land to a Indian trust that runs Amarnath, a cave shrine visited by Hindu pilgrims. Many Muslims were enraged.

The government then rescinded its decision, which in turn angered Hindus in Jammu who attacked lorries carrying supplies to Kashmir valley and often blocked the region's highway, the only surface link with the rest of India.

Kashmiris, challenging the blockade, took to the streets.

"People have given their verdict that they won't tolerate oppression and injustice, it is time for New Delhi to act and solve the dispute," Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said on Saturday, urging people to assemble at Aziz's home.

Reuters

Last Mod: 16 Ağustos 2008, 13:08
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