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Central & South Asia

India detains Kashmiri activists amid strike

Detentions intended to prevent protests during strike marking execution anniversaries of rebels, say police officials.

Last updated: 09 Feb 2014 13:12
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A few dozen pro-independence activists defied the restrictions and tried to stage a rally in Srinagar [AFP]

Indian troops have detained up to 200 activists in India-administered Kashmir to prevent protests during a three-day strike to mark the execution anniversaries of two separatists in New Delhi, AP news agency reported.

Authorities also placed the leaders of the activists under house arrest on Sunday, a police officer said on condition of anonymity, because he was not authorised to speak with reporters.

Many parts of Kashmir were under curfew on Sunday, with major roads blocked by razor wire and barricades as authorities sought to prevent anti-India protests and possible violence, Inspector General Abdul Gani Mir said.

A few dozen pro-independence activists defied the restrictions and tried to stage a rally in Srinagar, chanting "We want freedom" and "Return the bodies of our martyrs". They have been detained for several hours, another police officer told AP on condition of anonymity.

Refreshed anger

Kashmiri separatists, who have long demanded the region be given independence or be allowed to merge with neighbouring Pakistan, were incensed last year when Mohammed Afzal Guru was secretly hanged on February 9 in a New Delhi jail for involvement in a 2001 Parliament attack that killed 14 people, including five gunmen.

Most people in Kashmir believe Guru was not given a fair trial, and the covert execution led to days of violent anti-India protests in the Muslim-majority region, where anti-India sentiment runs deep.

The execution refreshed anger sparked in 1984, when pro-independence leader Mohammed Maqbool Butt was hanged in the same New Delhi jail after being convicted of killing an intelligence officer.

Since 1989, an armed uprising and an ensuing crackdown in the region have killed an estimated 68,000 people.

Separatists renewed demands over the weekend that the two men's remains, buried within the jail compound, be returned to the region for burial.

"The shutdown is called for pressing our demand for return of the mortal remains of our martyrs," Syed Ali Geelani, a separatist leader, said in a statement issued before he was detained at Srinagar's airport on Saturday after returning from New Delhi.

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