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Over a dozen injured in Kashmir clashes

30 May 2010 0:56

Several people have been injured in clashes between police and protesters in Indian-administered Kashmir amid a general strike across the Kashmir Valley.

Over a dozen people were injured on Saturday when thousands of villagers staged a demonstration in Kashmir’s northern district of Baramulla, about 50 kilometers from the capital Srinagar.

Police fired teargas to disperse the villagers who were protesting the murder of three Muslims by police forces in April.

Last month, the Indian military claimed it foiled an infiltration attempt by shooting three militants dead along the de facto border that divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan.

But three families in Baramulla said the murdered men were relatives who had gone missing three days before, a claim which was later proven to be true following the exhumation of the victims’ bodies.

Meanwhile, a general shutdown is being observed across the Kashmir Valley in protest against a visit by Indian Congress Party chief Sonia Gandhi to Jammu and Kashmir.

The strike was called by All Parties Hurriyat Conference Chairman Syed Ali Geelani in a show of dissociation with India and its administration on the eve of Sonia Gandhi’s visit.

“The Congress Party is barely responsible for the whole situation which is prevailing in Jammu and Kashmir, and India and Pakistan, since 1947 till date,” Geelani told the Press TV correspondent in Srinagar. “So to show the resentment of the people against the Congress Party and their policies, we have called for a shutdown.”

Indian authorities later took Geelani into custody in an attempt to dampen the protests in Srinagar, vowing to confront any potential threat to the public order.

“We cannot afford anything which would tamper with the normalcy,” Deputy Commissioner Mehraj Ahmad Kakroo said.

“You cannot afford any breach of peace and public tranquility. So law has to take its own course. Whosoever has to be under restrictions, we will do it,” he insisted.

Kashmir has been the main source of dispute between Pakistan and India since their independence from Britain in 1947. The status of the territory was the cause of two of the three wars the rival South Asian countries have fought.

Despite the risks, it seems the Kashmiris are determined to continue their “people power” movement.

Political analysts say the frequent street protests of the past two years are giving new life to the Kashmir liberation struggle.

Over the past two decades, the conflict in Kashmir has left over 47,000 people dead by the official count, although other sources say the death toll could be as high as 90,000.

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