Separatist mourned in Kashmir rally

Tens of thousands gather in Indian Kashmir to mourn protesters.

     Thousands of people massed in Pamporeto mourn 22 protesters killed earlier this week [AFP]

    Aziz wa a leader of Kashmir's main separatist alliance, the All Parties Hurriyat (Freedom) Conference.

     

    Security forces remained at a distance to avoid provoking further deadly clashes.

     

    Call for independence

     

    The weeks of demonstrations have been sparked by a row that pits Muslims in Kashmir against Hindus in Jammu, the two main regions which make up the Indian-controlled state of Jammu and Kashmir.

     

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

     

    The crisis has also raised tensions with nuclear rival Pakistan. India has criticised Islamabad for interfering in its internal affairs by calling for UN intervention in the region that both claim in full but rule in parts.

     

    The crisis in India-administered Kashmir began after the state government promised to give forest land to a trust that runs Amarnath, a cave shrine visited by Hindu pilgrims. Many Muslims opposed the move and the government backed down.

     

    Hindus in Jammu attacked lorries carrying supplies to Kashmir valley after the government's U-turn and blocked the region's highway, the only surface link with the rest of India.

     

    The rally in Pampore came a day after India's Independence Day celebrations when thousands of Muslims in Srinagar protested against New Delhi's rule with some burning the national flag.

     

    Addressing the nation in New Delhi, Manmohan Singh, the prime minister, called it an "hour of crisis" and urged dialogue to resolve the unrest.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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