Protest Against Indian Rule Shuts Down Kashmir

October 27, 2008

Author: Aijaz Hussain

Source: The Associated Press

Shops, businesses and government offices closed across Indian-administered Kashmir on Monday as separatists called a general strike to mark the anniversary of the day Indian troops took control of the region in 1947.

Thousands of Indian soldiers in riot gear patrolled the streets of Srinagar, the main city, and prohibited any gathering of more than five people, said senior police officer B. Srinivas.

The ban was aimed at blocking a plan by Kashmiri lawyers to form a human chain to protest the presence of Indian troops in the region.

"It's an irony that even forming a human chain is a threat to the Indian state," said Mirwaiz Omer Farooq, a key separatist leader. "This was supposed to be a symbolic protest reminding the world that India has militarily occupied this place."

In recent months, Indian Kashmir has seen some of the largest protests against Indian rule in two decades. At least 48 people have died, most of them killed when Indian soldiers opened fire on Muslim demonstrators.