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Eight hurt in protests over PM's visit

india Updated: Oct 10, 2008 18:48 IST

Protesters clashed with police at two places as hundreds of them took to streets after Friday prayers in the Valley where normal life was hit by a strike called by separatists against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Jammu and Kashmir.

Groups of youths also shouted slogans against Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari for his comments that militants operating in Jammu and Kashmir were "terrorists" and torched his effigies at Budshah chowk in the heart of the city and outside historic Jamia Masjid.

The protesters pelted stones on police and paramilitary forces at Maisuma and Nowhatta, official sources said adding police fired teargas shells and used batons to disperse the protesters.

Eight people were injured in the violence, the sources said.

In other places, the protesters dispersed peacefully but life in Valley was affected by a strike called by separatists against the two-day visit of prime minister who commissioned the Baglihar hydel power project at Ramban on Friday.

The separatists coordination committee "has given a call for peaceful protests on Friday and observance of civil curfew on Saturday to convey to the prime minister that Kashmir problem is not an issue of packages but involves the future of a nation," chairman of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) Mohammad Yasin Malik said addressing a gathering outside his party headquarters at Maisuma.

Malik said the time had come for resolution of Kashmir issue and the recent protest should serve as an "eye-opener" to the Indian government. "Efforts should be made to resolve Kashmir issue in accordance with the wishes and aspirations of the people," he said.

Shopkeepers in Srinagar and other major towns of the valley pulled down the shutters at midday and later joined the protests outside the mosques, shrines and Khankahs across the valley, official sources said.
Transport services were also hit as majority of vehicles went off the roads, they said.