Thousands Rally In Kashmir To Mourn Slain Separatist Leaders

21 May 2009
Agence France-Presse

Srinagar: Tens of thousands of Kashmiris chanting pro-freedom slogans Thursday held a rally to commemorate two top separatists slain on the same day a dozen years apart. The huge rally came as shops, schools and banks closed in the state summer capital Srinagar in line with a day-long strike called by separatists to mourn the slayings of the two leaders - Molvi Mohammed Farooq and Abdul Gani Lone. Farooq, who was chief cleric at Kashmir's main mosque, was shot dead in his Srinagar home on May 21, 1990. Lone was gunned down in 2002 - also on May 21 - at a ceremony marking Farooq's death. Militants and Indian security agencies traded blame for the killings. The rally on Thursday saw an estimated 65,000 Kashmiris chant 'We want freedom' and 'Allah is great' as they marched through the streets of Srinagar, while police maintained a heavy presence. Last year Muslim-dominated Kashmir valley witnessed some of the biggest anti-India demonstrations since an insurgency began in 1989.