Kashmir Capital Shuts To Protest Leader's Arrest
9 June 2006
Srinagar: Indian Kashmir's main city shut down on Friday in response to a strike call by separatists to protest against the arrest of a senior leader on charges of sedition. Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who heads a breakaway faction of the troubled region's largest separatist alliance, was arrested on Wednesday in south Kashmir.Most of Srinagar's streets were deserted. Witnesses said the strike also closed most schools and collages in the city, the summer capital of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. 'Geelani's arrest is a conspiracy to suppress the voice of Kashmiris,' said Mohammad Ashraf Sehrahi, his spokesman. Geelani is supported by most of the armed Islamist militants fighting Indian rule in the disputed region in a conflict that has killed more than 45,000 people since it began in 1989. A warrant for Geelani's arrest was issued in the Poonch district of south Kashmir in 2001 on charges of inciting people against the Indian state during a series of speeches. He was finally arrested when he visited the region on Wednesday. The 77-year-old separatist has been arrested and jailed on several occasions for making statements urging people to support Kashmir's accession with India's arch-rival Pakistan. The neighbours each control a part of Kashmir but claim it in full.