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Central & South Asia
Unrest over arrest of leader in Kashmir
Security forces fire tear gas to disperse stone pelters protesting against the arrest of seperatist leader.
Last Modified: 28 Apr 2011 22:50
Security forces have been picking up young men to avert a repeat of the protests of 2010 [Showkat Shafi/Al Jazeera]

Security forces in Indian Kashmir have fired tear gas to disperse stone-pelting demonstrators protesting  against the arrest of a key separatist in the region's main city Srinagar, according to witnesses and police.

No casualties were reported but Thursday's clash evoked memories of last summer's massive pro-independence street violence in which at least 114 people were killed, many of them teenagers.

The situation in Srinagar remained tense with heavy deployment of security forces, a police officer told the AFP news agencies, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"Hundreds of police and paramilitary personnel have been sent to the area," the officer said.

Sit-in protests

The rally,  led by the pro-independence Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), kicked off after Mohammad Yaseen Malik, the JKLF leader, and two senior party colleagues were arrested for leading a sit-in to protest against indiscriminate arrests of young people, police said.

The Reuters news agency reported that locals were initially protesting against the arrest of a youth named Ashiq Ahmad.

"Malik was arrested for staging a protest in violation of prohibitory orders in force in the city," the police officer said.

The state government has imposed rules against the assembly of four or more people without permission in an attempt to avoid a repeat of last summer's protests.

Police accused Malik of "intimidating and attacking" policemen and ransacking a police station.

Altaf Khan, the JKLF spokesman, denied the allegations and said that the arrest of Malik was unwarranted as he had staged "a peaceful sit-in".

He accused Indian security forces of using unnecessary force.

The latest violence followed a stone-throwing protest earlier in the week in Baramulla, north of Srinagar, in which a bus driver was killed by a rock.

Army shooting

In an unrelated incident, an Indian soldier killed four of his comrades on Thursday after apparently quarrelling with them, the army has revealed.

The soldier shot dead his colleagues at a camp in Bijbehara town, south of Srinagar, an army spokesman, who asked not to be named, told AFP.

"The soldier was arrested immediately after the dawn shooting during an apparently heated exchange of words," the spokesman said, adding an inquiry had  been ordered into the deaths.

It was the second such shooting in just over a month in heavily militarised Kashmir where a 20-year revolt against Indian rule has left more than 47,000 people dead, according to official figures.

Unofficial figures suggest that between 60,000 and 70,000 have been killed over the past two decades.

In March, an Indian soldier shot dead a senior colleague in the Himalayan state.

The killings are part of a string of shootings by Indian soldiers of their comrades over the years that doctors have blamed on stress.

Around 100 Indian soldiers also kill themselves every year in Kashmir and the insurgency-racked northeastern states, according to army figures.

The army has set up a helpline and yoga classes to assist soldiers deal with stress issues.

Thousands of people have been killed in two decades of anti-India insurgency in Muslim-majority Kashmir, which is divided between India and Pakistan by a ceasefire line monitored by the United Nations and claimed by both.

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Source:
Agencies
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