Shabir Ahmad held after protest
24 March 2001
The Indian Express
Srinagar: Police in Kashmir detained Shabir Ahmad, a senior separatist leader on Saturday after he led a protest against the reported burning of the Koran, witnesses said. They said Shabir Ahmad Shah, chief of the People's Democratic Freedom Party, was detained along with a dozen of his supporters near Lal Chowk in the heart of Srinagar, the summer capital of India's Jammu and Kashmir state. The protesters, angered by reports that the Muslim holy book had been burned in demonstrations in New Delhi and the state of Punjab, shouted pro-Islam and anti-India slogans. On Friday authorities imposed a curfew on Baramulla town in northern Kashmir after a protester was killed and two were wounded when police opened fire on a demonstration over the same issue. The curfew remained in place on Saturday, police said. At least 12 people were killed last week in the northern city of Kanpur in communal clashes triggered by the New Delhi burning incident. Separately, hundreds of people took to the streets in Jammu and Kashmir's Poonch district on Saturday to protest against the killing of a teenaged girl, police said. Protesters alleged that the girl had been killed by security forces, who rejected the charge, saying militants had attacked their camp and the girl might have been killed in the cross-fire. Nearly a dozen militant groups are fighting New Delhi's rule in Jammu and Kashmir, India's only Muslim-majority state. The authorities say more than 30,000 people have been killed since the armed rebellion erupted nearly 11 years ago.