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Top Kashmir separatist calls for peaceful protests

Srinagar, Wednesday, August 4, 2010:

Top Kashmiri separatist leader, Syed Ali Shah Geelani Wednesday made an appeal to people to resort to peaceful protests and refrain from arson and violence, soon after he was released from detention.

Geelani heads the hardline faction of separatist alliance All Parties Hurriyat Conference, and is the most influential leader in Indian administered Kashmir’s Muslim dominated Kashmir Valley.

At least 45 people have died since June 11 in a vicious cycle of protests and killings, 28 of them since Friday.

“This is a sacred movement and I appeal the youth to show humility while protesting and resort to peaceful means. It is not the movement of arson. Burning of offices, railway stations and vehicles cause damage to the Kashmir cause,” Geelani said while addressing a press conference at his Srinagar residence.

Kashmir has seen a series of killings followed by protests leading to further killings.

As the number of dead soared, the protests turned deadlier this week with people resorting to arson of government offices.

A number of people stations, some government offices, railway stations, government vehicles were attacked by mobs across the valley.

“The demonstrations should be peaceful. Wherever stopped by police, people should sit down, and bare their chest as dare (policemen) to shoot us,” said Geelani urging for peaceful protests.

“We need to ponder. Around 50 people have been martyred so far. No paramilitary man has been killed. So we need to think who is getting harmed,” Geelani explained.

A few hours after Geelani’s statement paramilitary fired upon a group of people in Bemina locality of Srinagar killing one, Muhammad Yaqoob Bhat.

Witnesses said that Bhat was not part of any protest.

Another youth, Iqbal Ahmad Khan who had received serious bullet injuries in police firing on Friday succumbed today.

Geelani lead a procession to Chanpora locality to join his funeral.

Protests, clashes and firing was reported from many area of the Valley today.

Meanwhile 21 companies of additional paramilitary troops have reached Srinagar today.

“We will be receiving a total of 24 companies of additional troops. Of them 21 companies of CRPF have reached and three companies of Rapid Action Force are on their way to reach Srinagar. It means 2000 troopers have been called as reinforcement,” said Prabhakar Triphati, the spokesman of CRPF in Srinagar.

The decision to rush more troops to troubled region was taken in an emergency meeting between Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at New Delhi on Monday.

Thousands of police and paramilitary troops remain deployed along deserted roads in most towns wearing riot gear.

Indian administered Kashmir is one of the highest militarized non-war zone in the word, with an estimated troop to civilian ratio of 70:1000.

The ratio is higher in the Kashmir Valley.

Oppostion parties in Kashmir have criticized use of force.

“The decision to introduce Rapid Action Force in addition to the existing police and other paramilitary forces in a highly militarised place to terrorize the protesting people can only further deteriorate the situation,” said Mehbooba Mufti, president of pro-India and region’s main opposition party -Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The moderate separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has also condemned the rushing of reinforcements to the region.

“Government India has declared war on the people of Kashmir. Whenever there is crisis New Delhi talks of peace process and dialogue and backs off from it when situation improves. We tried to enter into dialogue with New Delhi but they have always shown cold response. Kashmir is a political problem and needs political solution but India is further militarizing this place by sending more troops," said Farooq in an interview to Hyderabad based television news channel.

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