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Srinagar: Hundreds defy curfew, tension escalates

By Mukhtar Ahmad and Krishnakumar P in Srinagar
Last updated on: August 14, 2008 00:57 IST
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Tension escalated in Srinagar on Wednedsay night as hundreds defied curfew and assembled in mosques across the city, raising pro-freedom and anti-establishment slogans.

The people began gathering in the mosques from around 8 pm and the sound of gunshots could be heard as the protests raged well past midnight.

The Central government has taken serious note of the alleged excess of the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force, sources said and added that the Centre has decided to withdraw the CRPF inspector general in the Valley following a state government report on the two-day protests and firing.

These are the series of events that have led to the current tense situation in Srinagar:

* The protests over the Amarnath land row had led to an alleged blockade of the Jammu-Srinagar highway.

* After waiting with the produce for several days, the fruit growers' association decided to take their trucks to Muzzafarabad, from where they said they will reach the rest of India.

* The fruit growers allege that they sought permission to meet Home Minister Shivraj Patil on Sunday, when he was in the Valley heading an all-party delegation that had come to assess the situation in Jammu and Kashmir. Patil, however, told mediapersons that the march to Muzaffarabad was neither in the interest of the fruit growers nor the state.

* On Monday, the fruit growers began their march towards Muzzafarabad. Though there were apprehensions that the situation might go out of hand, the administration failed to impose a curfew and keep the situation under control.

* The protests turned ugly and the security forces resorted to firing killing at least five people, including Hurriyat leader Sheikh Abdul Aziz.

* On Tuesday, thousands defied curfew and poured out into the streets of Srinagar to protest against the killings. The CRPF yet again handled the situation shoddily and the resultant firing saw 15 people being killed.

* On Wednesday, curfew was relaxed for nine hours, but in the evening, rumours of three more people being killed further worsened the situation.

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Mukhtar Ahmad and Krishnakumar P in Srinagar