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J&K protests Pope's remarks against Islam

By Mukhtar Ahmad In Srinagar
September 16, 2006 00:14 IST
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The reported anti-Islamic remarks by Pope Benedict XVI triggered protests in summer capital Srinagar on Friday.

Anticipating trouble the authorities put in place elaborate security arrangements in the entire Srinagar city on Friday.

Scores of lawyers of Kashmir Bar Association marched through the city centre Lal Chowk on Friday afternoon shouting slogans against the Pope.

"The remarks against Islam and the Holy Prophet made by the Pope are irresponsible and reflecting hatred against the Muslims," one of the protesting lawyers said in Srinagar.

Imams at many mosques in Srinagar city who conducted the Friday prayers on Friday also condemned the 'inflammatory remarks' made by the Pope.

After the day's main prayers, activists of a separatist group, Muslim League, gathered outside a mosque in downtown Srinagar "to express their anger against the Pope's derogatory remarks."

Police used batons to disperse the slogan-shouting activists. Security was tight in Kashmir capital Srinagar on Friday.

"If religious heads act to spread hatred and anger among the communities and across religions then we are heading for a disaster," said Mohammad Shafi, 45, a resident of downtown Ali Kadal locality of the city.

Authorities had put Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the chairman of the hardline breakaway group of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference and Shabir Ahmad Shah, the chairman of the Democratic Freedom Party under house arrest to prevent them from joining the day's protests against the Pope.

Meanwhile eight army troopers were wounded, two of them critically in a militant ambush in north Kashmir Kupwara district Friday.

Militants ambushed a convoy of the army at Thakorpora village on the Srinagar-Kupwara highway,80 kilometres from Srinagar on Friday afternoon.

"Eight army troopers were wounded in the militant ambush. Two of the critically injured troopers were evacuated in an army helicopter to the base hospital inside the headquarters of 15th corps in summer capital Srinagar," a senior police officer said in Srinagar.

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Mukhtar Ahmad In Srinagar