Kashmir Govt. Releases Audio Tapes Indicting Geelani14 September 2010
Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir government has found new evidence against Hurriyat hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani, media reports said. Audio tapes of a conversation between a Hurriyat worker, who is a close aide of Geelani, and a protester, were played out on TV channels. Addressing a press conference on Monday evening, the State DGP, Kuldeep Khoda said the aide, Imtiaz Haider, instigated people at Budgam to defy curfew and target the public property. In one of the intercepts, Haider purportedly tells the person on the other side to assemble people from Budgam and adjoining areas for holding protests. Security forces faced law and order problems at several places after rumours that a Quran had been desecrated in the US. As violence broke out, 15 people were killed and at least 45 injured. Kashmir Police said 52 activists of the hardline Hurriyat Conference led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani and the Muslim League headed by Massarat Aalam had been arrested for allegedly instigating violence in Budgam district of central Kashmir. Activists chanted 'Down with America' and burnt President Barack Obama in effigy, in a rare anti-U.S. protest. Despite a rigid curfew after a weekend of violence, tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets Monday, throwing rocks, torching government buildings and a Christian school, and chanting, 'Go India, go back. We want freedom.' Security forces shot at crowds in about a dozen different places, said Kuldeep Khoda. As the protests worsened, the Iranian station was removed from local cable networks at the insistence of Kashmiri authorities. U.S. Ambassador Timothy Roemer said the U.S. government was 'dismayed' by reports of the rioting and appealed for calm. He also condemned any Quran desecration as 'disrespectful, intolerant, divisive and unrepresentative of American values. The deliberate destruction of any holy book is an abhorrent act.' In New Delhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said India was searching for a peaceful resolution to the summer of conflict. 'We are willing to talk to every person or group which abjures violence, within the framework of our constitution,' Singh said in a speech to top army commanders. His statement came hours ahead of a meeting of top Cabinet ministers that was expected to decide whether to lift the Armed Forces Special Powers Act - which gives sweeping powers to security forces in Kashmir - as a goodwill gesture in parts of the territory that have been relatively peaceful. A statement issued after the Cabinet ministers' meeting did not mention the act, suggesting no decision was made.