Kashmir Demonstrators In UN March

17 August 2008

London: Thousands have gathered in Srinagar city in Indian-administered Kashmir, demanding that the UN recognise their right to self-determination. Separatist leaders plan to submit a memorandum to the UN office in the city outlining their demands. More than 21 people died last week in the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley during police firing on protesters. The unrest began two months ago when a small piece of land was awarded to a trust running a Hindu shrine. This provoked Muslim anger. The government then rescinded its decision, triggering furious counter-protests from Hindus in Jammu. Tight security The BBC's Altaf Hussain in Srinagar says thousands of people have gathered at a ground in Srinagar. Thousands more are still arriving, he says. A large crowd of slogan-shouting protesters has also gathered outside the UN office. Security across the city is tight and police barricades have been put up everywhere to regulate crowds. Correspondents say that by marching to the UN office and presenting a memorandum of their demands, the separatist leaders are trying to internationalise the latest crisis in Kashmir. Much of the Kashmir valley remained paralysed last week by a shutdown called by separatist groups. Police in Srinagar say the curfew has been lifted in several districts, but local people say this is not true. People hoisted black flags in many parts of Srinagar on India's independence day last Friday. After years of relative calm, the demonstrations in the valley are the biggest since a separatist rebellion against Indian rule started nearly 20 years ago, analysts say.