Troops Deployed In Kashmir To Scuttle Anti-India Protests

6 November 2008
Agence France-Presse


Srinagar: Thousands of troops were deployed in Indian Kashmir Thursday to prevent a protest rally called by separatist leaders against New Delhi's rule in the Muslim-majority region. 'Heavy deployment has been made in Srinagar and other major towns of the valley to foil the separatist rally,' a police official told AFP. Protesters had planned to march to an important mosque in downtown Srinagar, but awoke to tight security with heavily-armed police manning street corners and checking vehicles. 'The Indian police are not allowing anyone out of their homes,' said local resident Javid Ahmad, who lives near the mosque. The police official said no curfew was in place but restrictions on movement had been imposed to 'maintain law and order.' Moderate separatist leader Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, who was to lead the rally, criticised the government for crushing the 'voice of the people.' 'I have been placed under house arrest since yesterday,' Farooq, Kashmir's head cleric, told AFP from his residence on the outskirts of the city. In the past few months, Kashmir has witnessed the biggest pro-independence demonstrations since an insurgency erupted in 1989. The protests have been met with a tough crackdown by Indian security forces. On Saturday, three key separatists were sent to jail for opposing state elections - scheduled next month - under a tough security law that allows detention for up to two years without trial. Separatists and Muslim rebels oppose the elections, arguing they strengthen New Delhi's hold over the disputed region. India and Pakistan each control part of Kashmir but claim it in full.