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Separatist leader among 8 killed in Kashmir

Srinagar, August 11, 2008:

Srinagar, August 11: At least eight persons including a separatist leader were killed and hundreds injured in Indian administered Kashmir when Indian police and Indian troopers opened indiscriminate fire at several places to prevent massive processions from marching towards Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan administered Kashmir.

Police and Indian troopers opened fire at several processions in north Kashmir's Uri area and in Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian administered Kashmir to prevent tens of thousands of protestors from marching to cross the Line of Control, the de facto border which separates Kashmir into the Indian administered part and the Pakistan administered part.

The separatist leader Sheikh Abdul Aziz and two others were killed at Uri. Seven others were killed in different areas of Kashmir.

Aziz, 52, a former militant turned moderate political leader earlier headed the militant group Al Jehad.

Aziz, who had been jailed on several occasions for demanding accession of Kashmir to Pakistan, is the third prominent separatist leader to have been killed since the eruption of armed rebellion against the Indian rule in 1989.

Mirwaiz Moulvi Muhammad Farooq was killed on May 21, 1990 while Abdul Gani Lone were killed on May 21, 2002.

Tens of thousands of people throughout Kashmir were out on streets early Monday morning on a call given by the fruit traders and All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), an amalgam of various separatists groups.

The fruit traders and separatists had given a call to people to cross LoC and march towards Muzaffarabad through the erstwhile Jehlum Valley Road to protest against the blockade of Srinagar-Jammu highway by the Hindu fanatics in Jammu, the winter capital of Indian administered Kashmir.

Following the killings, the irate protestors attacked the residence of a senior police officer who opened fire on the separatist leader and also torched a police station in north Kashmir.

Around 15,000 people also forced the stoppage of power supply of Rs 3,300-crore National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) project for sometime at its main outlet Gingal, 90 km from Srinagar, sources said.

The project generates 480 mega watts (MW) by harnessing the waters of the Jhelum River. The powerhouse is carved out inside a mountain and the water, after generation of electricity, is let back into the Jhelum through a 2 km long underground tunnel.

Deputy Commissioner Baramulla, Baseer Ahmad Khan said: "The situation here is very tense and people have already attempted to block the power supply but extra troopers were immediately deployed to restrict them."

The highly sophisticated plant currently generates about 70 MW due to low water levels in the Jhelum. The surplus power, after state's share is fed into the Northern grid, which is supplied to the north Indian states.

A top administrative office Masoud Samoon told Kashmir Newz that curfew will be imposed from Tuesday to bring the situation under control.

The separatists said that the march would continue on Tuesday while the Indian Army chief, General Deepak Kapoor said in New Delhi that the overwhelming response evoked by the Muzaffarabad March was "worrisome".

Kapoor has directed the troopers deployed in north Kashmir to observe maximum restraint and not to fire at the protestors.

Meanwhile, the hospitals in Kashmir are running out of medicines and the blood banks out of blood.

"We are facing an acute crisis," doctors at hospitals in Kashmir said.

They also said that the Indian police and Indian troopers forced their way into the city's premier SMHS hospital and fired tear smoke canisters and bullets at patients and doctors.

Chief Administrative Officer of SMHS Hospital, Dr Waseem said: "Medical faculty of the hospital strongly condemns this brutal act of Police and Indian troopers. As per Geneva conventions Army, Police or any security agency is not entitled to open fire on any hospital building or doctor. It is a violation of Geneva conventions, a war crime."

Hundreds of people children, young and old turned up at the hospitals to donate blood for the injured. However, the children had to returned disappointed after the doctors turned down their offer.

Mufti Rouf Ahmad, in-charge blood department SMHS hospital said that they are short of B +ve and O -ve blood groups but admitted people were coming in large number to donate.

Hospital authorities said more than 150 injured were admitted in city hospitals only while the number of injured admitted at hospitals in district headquarters is much more.

Chief Medical Officer, Bone and Joint Hospital, Dr Farooq said most of the injured had received bullet injuries while rest were injured by tear smoke canisters while some were beaten to pulp.

Across the LoC, over 5000 residents of Pakistan administered Kashmir were waiting for their brethren living on the other side of the LoC.

Talking over phone from Muzaffarabad, Ejaz Mir said, "We are waiting for our brothers from other Kashmir to arrive. We are happy to host them but we fear Indian troops won't let them through."

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