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Two killed in protests over PM's visit

Two persons died and half a dozen were injured when police and CRPF opened fire to disperse protesters in Srinagar. This happened when PM Manmohan Singh was in town, reports Rashid Ahmad.

india Updated: Oct 10, 2008 23:55 IST
Rashid Ahmad

Two persons died and half a dozen were injured when police and CRPF opened fire to disperse protesters at Nowhatta in Srinagar on Friday. This happened when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was in town.

The PM was greeted by a bandh called by the Kashmir Coordination Committee, which been campaigning for the right to self-determination for the people of Kashmir. The Committee has called for a ‘civil curfew’ across the Valley on Saturday.

Shopkeepers downed their shutters at the call of the Committee before Friday prayers. Vehicles also went off roads. Hundreds of youths took out protest demonstrations at Nowhatta in old Srinagar. They pelted stones at the police who tried to disperse the crowd. This led to prolonged clashes. Police fired tear gas shells, and when the protestors refused to retreat, opened fire injuring eight people.

One of the injured, Muneer Ahmad Shaikh, succumbed to his injuries in Soura Medical Institute. Another injured boy, unidentified at the time of writing, died in SMHS hospital. Doctors said both had bullet injuries.

The PM expressed grief over the loss of human lives. “It is regrettable that some people have lost their lives in the recent incidents. I express my sympathy with families of those who have lost their dear ones,” he said.

Let’s talk: PM

The government is ready for a dialogue with even those sections of Kashmiris who have so far stayed away from the political process, the PM said on Friday, but emphasised that existing international borders could not be redrawn. “We welcome dialogue with all sections, including those that have so far chosen to stay away,” he said at a press conference.

Though it called for a shutdown to protest Singh’s visit, the Hurriyat Conference had on Thursday stated “all issues” could be resolved through dialogue

Visiting the Valley after more than two years, Singh acknowledged that sections of Kashmiris were unhappy with the Centre. “Recent incidents show there is some resentment towards the government among a section of youth here,” he said. “I urge whoever has complaints and grievances to come forward for dialogue. We want the future of Kashmir to be socially, economically and politically bright.”