Kashmiris protest after leader held

Demonstrators urge the release of Yasin Malik who called for an election boycott.

    Malik addresses a crowd during an anti-election rally in north of Srinagar [AFP] 

    Police used tear gas and batons to disperse scores of demonstrators protesting against the arrest.

    Kashmir's main separatist alliance, the All Parties Hurriyat (Freedom) Conference, which is demanding an end to Indian rule in the region, has called for a complete boycott of the elections scheduled to be held in seven phases.

    Poll pressure

    Further calls to suspend the elections were made after at least 42 people were killed by security forces and more than 1,000 were wounded in anti-India protests.

    Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, the Hurriyat chairman, said: "New Delhi is trying to project the election as an alternative solution to Kashmir, but we will not allow it to happen.

    "We appeal to the people to boycott the elections."

    The government has announced a ban on public meetings of five or more people for one month.

    There will be a deployment of security forces across the region during the poll.

    In the past, separatist fighters have attacked candidates, polling stations, party workers and rallies during elections, killing scores of people.

    But early this year, the United Jihad Council, a Pakistan-based alliance fighting Indian troops in Kashmir, rejected the use of violence to force a boycott of elections.

    Clashes between Indian troops and Kashmiris has declined significantly since India and Pakistan, which both claim the region, began a slow-moving peace process in 2004.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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