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Three killed in Kashmir protests: police PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 07 August 2008

Jammu, India, Aug 5 ( - Three people were killed in Indian Kashmir on Monday when police opened fire on different groups of protesters, police said, the latest in tit-for-tat demonstrations over the transfer of land to the Amarnath shrine.

Two people were killed and about a dozen people were wounded near the city of Jammu after police fired tear gas at stone-throwing Hindu protesters blocking a key highway to the Muslim majority region in Kashmir valley.

The protesters near Jammu were demanding the transfer of land to the Amarnath shrine trust.

Separately, another person was killed and 30 more wounded when police fired teargas shells and clashed with hundreds of stone-throwing Muslim demonstrators in Srinagar, protesting against attacks on Muslims in Jammu, police said.

Hindus in Jammu have been protesting over the past three weeks and the Indian army was sent to the city on Friday after two protesters were killed. A curfew is in place.

"We stick to our core demand, restoration of land," Shri Amarnath Yatra Sangrash Samiti, a Hindu group leading the protests, said in an earlier statement.

The controversy over the issue of land for the Hindu trust has polarised Indian Kashmir, split between the Muslim-majority region around Kashmir valley and the Hindu-dominated region around the winter capital city of Jammu.

The Kashmir government planned to transfer land to build shelters for Hindu pilgrims visiting Amarnath, a cave shrine, to pray by a sacred ice stalagmite. Faced with huge Muslim protests, it rescinded the order, sparking Hindu demonstrations.

The controversy has sparked some of the biggest protests since a revolt against Indian rule by Muslim separatists broke out in 1989. At least eight people have been killed in the protests since June.

Shops and businesses in Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian Kashmir, were closed on Monday in a protest over reported assaults on Muslims by Hindus,

"Let us express solidarity with Muslims who were attacked by Hindu extremists in Jammu region," said hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani.

Geelani was placed under house arrest on Monday to prevent him from leading protests, police said.

Mohammad Yasin Malik, another senior separatist leader, said he planned to begin a hunger strike from Tuesday to protest attacks on Muslims.

Tens of thousands of people have died in the disputed Himalayan region during two decades of separatist revolt.

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