Curfew In Indian Kashmir Thwarts Separatist Rally

6 October 2008
Agence France-Presse

Srinagar: Thousands of Indian security forces implemented a strict curfew in Kashmir on Monday, preventing separatists from holding a pro-independence rally. Organisers behind recent anti-India protests in Kashmir had urged the residents to rally during the day in Lal Chowk, or Red Square, in the heart of summer capital Srinagar. But city authorities imposed the curfew on Sunday and detained key separatist leaders to stop the march taking place. Security vehicles fitted with loudspeakers drove through the streets of Srinagar, ordering people to stay indoors as security personnel patrolled the deserted streets. 'We are enforcing a strict curfew across Srinagar and other (Muslim-dominated) towns,' police officer Pervez Ahmed told AFP. Over the past few months the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley has been hit by some of the biggest 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. Senior separatist and Muslim cleric Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who is under house arrest, had told AFP by phone that there would be attempts by separatists to reach Red Square on Monday. But the authorities said the demonstration would not be tolerated. 'It is one of the most aggressive curfews I have ever witnessed. There are soldiers knocking at our door every hour, warning us not to move out,' said Mudasar Amin, a middle-aged Kashmiri businessman. The demonstrations had subsided during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, but separatists have vowed to reignite them.