Protest Ban Imposed In Indian Kashmir

4 October 2008
Agence France-Presse

Srinagar: Indian Kashmir imposed a one-month ban Saturday on public gatherings, the government said, in a move interpreted as a bid to scupper a planned rally by pro-independence Muslim separatists. The order applied to gatherings of five or more in public spaces, a government statement said. A committee spearheading recent protests against Indian rule had planned to hold a mass rally Monday in the main city of Srinagar. Hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani has been placed under house arrest ahead of the proposed demonstration but other activists said they intended to march. 'Come what may, we would defy all the restrictions to make the rally a success,' said senior separatist Yasin Malik. Over the past few months the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley has been hit by some of the biggest pro-freedom demonstrations since the eruption of an insurgency against New Delhi's rule in 1989. The protests were triggered by a row over a government donation of Kashmiri land to a Hindu pilgrimage trust and spiralled into anti-India demonstrations that have left more than 40 Muslim protesters dead.