Strike, security lockdown cripple Kashmir

Source : AFP
Last Updated: Thu, Feb 11, 2010 08:00 hrs

A security lockdown and general strike crippled life in Indian Kashmir on Thursday, on the anniversary of the execution of a prominent Muslim separatist.

The day-long strike was sponsored by the pro-independence Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) in memory of founder Mohammad Maqbool Bhat, who was hanged in a New Delhi jail on February 11, 1984 for the murder of an intelligence officer.

Bhat's family and supporters say the charges were trumped up.

JKLF urged residents of the Muslim-majority state to hold pro-independence demonstrations on Thursday to commemorate Bhat and press New Delhi to return his remains.

Bhat was buried in New Delhi's Tihar jail.

Authorities sealed off neighbourhoods in most parts of Srinagar, Indian Kashmir's summer capital, and deployed thousands of police and paramilitary to prevent protests.

"We are enforcing restrictions on civilian movement to maintain law and order," police officer Pervez Ahmed said.

Srinagar has witnessed a series of violent protests, following the killing of two teenage boys, allegedly by the security forces.

The strike, also supported by other separatist groups opposed to Indian rule over part of the disputed Himalayan region, closed down shops, businesses and offices across Srinagar and other Muslim-majority towns.

The JKLF launched an armed separatist insurgency against Indian rule in 1989.

The group gave up its armed struggle in 1994, and is now campaigning for Kashmir's independence from both India and Pakistan, which hold the region in part but claim it in full.




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