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Separatists prepare for march in Indian Kashmir

Separatists prepare for march in Indian Kashmir

Indian Kashmir braced for new protests Friday as tens of thousands of people gathered in the region's main city for a massive demonstration against Indian rule after several days of calm.
Schools, businesses and shops were shut across the region and there was no public transport ahead of the march called by a coalition of separatist political parties.
The protest follows a three-day hiatus that allowed residents to stock up on supplies after nearly two months of unrest in Indian-administered Kashmir pitting the region's Muslim majority against the Hindu minority. The violence has left at least 34 people dead, most of them protesters shot during clashes with police and soldiers.
Long lines of people streamed toward the Eidgah grounds in Srinagar, a large square near the Martyr's Graveyard where hundreds of separatist rebels and civilians who died in the region's 19-year insurgency are buried.
A statement from the organizers said the march was called to honor "martyrs of the movement and pray for Kashmir's freedom from the colonial oppression."
Several thousand police officers in riot gear patrolled the streets ahead of the rally.
The crisis began in June with a dispute over land near a Hindu shrine. Muslims launched protests complaining that a state government decision to transfer land to a Hindu shrine trust was actually a settlement plan meant to alter the religious balance in the region. After the plan was rescinded Hindus took to the streets demanding it be restored.
The unrest has unleashed pent-up tensions between Kashmir's Muslims and Hindus and threatened to snap the bonds between India and its only Muslim-majority state.
There is a long history of separatist movements in Kashmir, which has been divided between India and Pakistan since 1948. Most were peaceful until 1989, when a bloody Islamic insurgency began. The insurgents want to see India's part of the region merged with Pakistan or given independence.
At least 68,000 people have been killed in the fighting since 1989.


Updated : 2021-01-26 10:41 GMT+08:00