Mon, Jul 28, 2008 - Page 5 News List

Protesting Hindus clash with police in Jammu, 30 injured

DPA , SRINAGAR, INDIA

At least 30 people were injured in India-administered Kashmir’s summer capital of Jammu on Saturday when Hindu protestors clashed with police to protest the cancelation of transfer of land for a popular Hindu pilgrimage.

Jammu, a Hindu majority region in the mostly Muslim state has been observing a shut-down since Thursday against the state government’s revoking its earlier order of transferring 40 hectares of forest land to a trust that organizes the annual pilgrimage to the Amarnath cave.

All business, commercial establishments and educational institutes remained closed and traffic was off the roads in Jammu city.

Administration officials said 30 people, including protestors and eight policemen, were injured when clashes erupted at several places in Jammu. The demonstrators also set ablaze vehicles and damaged many others.

Police baton-charged demonstrators and fired tear-gas shells to prevent stone-pelting crowds from entering the city center.

The violent protests over the land row picked up after a local committed suicide on Wednesday saying he was “sacrificing his life for the cause.”

“A policeman was critically injured as a mob in the suburbs of Jammu hit him with stones and later thrashed him,” a police official said, requesting anonymity.

The unrest against the government’s transfer of land to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board, a trust that organizes the Amarnath pilgrimage, began last month in the Muslim-dominated Kashmir valley.

Muslim separatist leaders, who initially called for the protests, said the decision was part of a conspiracy to settle non-Muslims in the region with the aim of altering the demographic character of the state.

The violence claimed five lives and injured more than 500 people before the order was revoked on July 1, drawing the ire of Hindus.

Besides Jammu, the epicenter of the protests, other cities and towns have also witnessed violent Hindu protests this month.

Kashmir, a picturesque region, has been hit by protracted violence and bloodshed since a separatist revolt peaked in the late 1980s.

Government data indicates that more than 40,000 people — civilians, militants and security forces — have been killed in Indian-administered Kashmir since the 1990s.

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