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Much of Kashmir shuts down as separatists mark 60 years of Indian army presence

Much of Kashmir shuts down as separatists mark 60 years of Indian army presence

Police fired tear gas Saturday at rock-throwing protesters as a general strike called to mark 60 years of India's military presence in Kashmir shut down much of the Indian-controlled portion of the divided Himalayan territory, police said.
Some 200 Muslim youths took to the streets near the main mosque in the chief city of Srinagar, chanting slogans against Indian rule and throwing rocks at police who tried to stop them marching, said Sajad Ahmed, a local police officer.
Ahmed said at least three protesters and two policemen were injured in the clashes.
Shops, schools and businesses were closed and public transport stayed off the roads in Srinagar. Government services were also affected, with civil servants staying home.
Separatist political groups, who want Muslim-majority Kashmir's independence from mainly Hindu India or a union with mostly Muslim Pakistan, mark Oct. 27 as a "black day," commemorating the day Indian troops arrived in 1947.
India maintains it sent troops at the request of Kashmir's Hindu king, who decided to join India when the subcontinent was partitioned between India and Pakistan on gaining independence from Britain, also in 1947.
However, separatists, including political groups and about a dozen militant groups who have been fighting New Delhi since 1989, believe the king chose to join India only after the troops arrived.
"India occupied Kashmir through military aggression," said Syed Ali Shah Geelani, a separatist leader.
Dozens of Geelani's followers staged a peaceful demonstration in a main park in Srinagar, holding signs reading: "Remove shackles of Oct. 27, 1947" and "Stop human rights violations."
Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan, but claimed in its entirety by both. The archrivals have fought two of their three wars over control of Kashmir.
More than 68,000 people, most of them civilians, have died in the rebellion.