Kashmiris gather to pay tribute to slain separatist leader

16 August 2008
The Hindustan Times

Srinagar: Hundreds of Kashmiri Muslims on Saturday marched towards a south Kashmir town where separatist leaders have planned a rally to pay tributes to a Hurriyat leader killed in police firing on Monday. 'People are joining us in masses,' said a spokesman of the separatist Hurriyat Conference. The Hurriyat Conference has planned the rally in Pampore town, 16 km from Srinagar, to pay homage to their slain colleague Sheikh Abdul Aziz who was killed in police firing Aug 11 while leading a march of thousands towards the Line of Control. The valley has been witnessing unprecedented violence and public frenzy following the bitter Amarnath land row, which has nearly brought the state to the brink of division on religious lines. More than 40 people have died, mostly in police firing, in the last two months of violent protests in the state - Hindu-dominated Jammu and Muslim predominant Kashmir Valley. Supporters of the Hurriyat Conference were travelling on trucks and buses shouting pro-freedom slogan on their way to Pampore on Saturday. However, there was no report of violent clashes till noon. Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has been repeatedly urging the people to refrain from stoning police and paramilitary bunkers. The police are also under strict orders from the administration to show maximum restraint while dealing with mobs.