South Asia

Protest shutdown brings Kashmir valley to standstill

Policewomen stand near closed shops during a curfew in Srinagar on July 1, 2010
Image caption Women police personnel have been deployed in Srinagar

A protest shutdown has paralysed normal life for a fourth successive day in Indian-administered Kashmir.

The strike has been called in protest at the recent killing of unarmed civilians by police and paramilitary troops.

Five towns - Sopore, Anantnag, Mattan, Kulgam and Koimoh - and some areas of Srinagar have been placed under curfew.

At least 11 civilians died in clashes with security forces in Indian-administered Kashmir in June.

Many of the deaths have been blamed on the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).

On Wednesday Chief Minister Omar Abdullah defended the security forces, saying they could not be expected constantly to show restraint when they were so often pelted with stones.

'Quit Kashmir'

Shops, schools and colleges in the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley are shut on the fourth day of the curfew, the BBC's Altaf Hussain in Srinagar reports.

Work in government offices has also been affected.

In Srinagar's old city all roads leading to the Pathar Masjid (Stone Mosque) have been sealed after separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani called upon women to march there.

Mr Geelani's All Party Hurriyat Conference launched a "Quit Kashmir campaign" last Friday. Contingents of women police personnel have been deployed to prevent the march.

The killings of civilian protesters, most of them teenagers, have angered many in the valley.

One newspaper headline described 2010 as the "year of teenage killings" in Kashmir.

Even the pro-India People's Democratic Party (PDP) has accused the government of declaring war on its own people, our correspondent reports.

Hundreds of thousands of troops are based in Kashmir to fight a two-decade insurgency against Indian rule.

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