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Women separatists strike Srinagar hotel

By Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar
March 09, 2007 18:43 IST
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An angry mob smashed furniture and glass at a local restaurant in the heart of summer capital Srinagar in the wake of a raid by Burqa-clad activists of the women's separatist group, Dukhtaran-e-Milat.

Police had to use batons and tear gas to disperse the unruly crowd after the Friday prayers late Friday afternoon that set two private cars ablaze after smashing furniture and glass inside a local restaurant at Naaz crossing area of the city Friday.

Earlier in the day, the restaurant was raided by several burqa-clad activists of the Dukhtaran-e-Milat.

Dukhtaran activists claimed the restaurant had become 'a centre for flesh trade and other immoral activities.' The hotel owner, however, denied the allegations.

According to eyewitnesses, the Dukhtaran activists whisked away two girls who were inside the restaurant.

It must be recalled that ever since the women's separatist group came into being in the early 1990s, they have been waging a relentless campaign against obscenity, vulgarity and other immoral activities in Kashmir.

Last year, Dukhtaran activists had whisked some girls from local hotels. The girls were later reportedly 'handed over to their parents to be reprimanded and corrected.'

"We have registered a case against those who ransacked the hotel and created a law and order problem in the city. We are also looking into the allegations being levelled that the restaurant was being used for unlawful, immoral activities," a senior police officer said in Srinagar.

Tension in uptown Srinagar was tense and security has been beefed up in the area.

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Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar