India pleads for Kashmir strife to end
SRINAGAR, India - Tens of thousands of Muslims took to the streets again yesterday in India's part of Kashmir, ignoring a plea by the country's prime minister for an end to weeks of violence that has left 34 people dead.
A curfew that had been in place throughout much of Kashmir was lifted earlier yesterday because the day appeared calm with streets deserted and shops closed as Kashmiris fell in line with a call by separatist leaders to observe the Indian Independence Day holiday as a "black day."
But soon after Muslim prayers ended, tens of thousands of people poured into the streets of Kashmir's towns and cities. In Srinagar, the region's main city, protesters burned Indian flags, and raised an Islamic green flag at the clock tower in the city's main bazaar.
They also burned effigies of Indian soldiers. Security forces kept their distance from the protesters to avoid provoking another clash.
More than six weeks of unrest in Indian-administered Kashmir have pitted the region's Muslim majority against its Hindu minority and killed at least 34 people, many of them protesters shot during clashes with police and soldiers. The crisis began in June with a dispute over land near a Hindu shrine. The Hindu minority was angered when the state government reversed a decision to give 99 acres to a Hindu trust to build facilities for pilgrims near the shrine.