Kashmir burns as five die in police fire
A Hurriyat leader was also killed when police opened fire as many Kashmiris came on streets, responding to a call to march across the LoC into Pak, reports R Ahmad.Updated: Aug 12, 2008 01:50 IST
Five people, including a prominent leader of the separatist Hurriyat Conference, Shaikh Abdul Aziz — chief of the Peoples' League — were killed in police firing on Monday as thousands of Kashmiris poured into the streets, responding to a call to march across the line of control (LoC) towards Muzzafarabad in Pakistan.
Curfew was clamped in all towns of the Valley and hundreds of arrests were made.
<b1>The call was given by Kashmiri fruit growers to protest the alleged economic blockade of the Valley by agitators in Jammu, which was preventing them from transporting their highly perishable produce to markets across the country. The march was intended to emphasise that if their produce could not reach Indian markets, they would send it instead to Pakistan. It had the support of Kashmir’s chamber of commerce, traders’ federation, as well as all factions of the separatists and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
The largest of the marching processions began in Sopore, led by Shaikh Aziz and another separatist leader Shabir Shah, swelling to nearly a lakh as it moved along the Srinagar-Muzzafarabad highway. Around 300 trucks and buses were part of the caravan.
The first police firing on the marchers occurred at Sangrama, in which one person was killed. Despite being repeatedly warned not to proceed further, the protesters continued to press ahead, until the police opened fire again at Chahal village near Uri town. Shaikh Aziz was hit and later died on way to the hospital.
“The police fired directly on us,” alleged one of the marchers. “They wanted to kill.”
Doctors at SMHS Hospital in Srinagar said that around 100 injured were brought in with bullet injuries. Similar processions were seen in Shopian, Kulgam, Anantnag and Pulwama.