Indian Kashmir locked down in bid to stem protests

Published on France24, by AFP, June 30, 2010.

Thousands of Indian troops enforced a strict curfew in parts of Kashmir Wednesday in a bid to stem three weeks of deadly protests that have claimed 11 lives and led to soaring tensions … //

… The violence in Kashmir is seen as a major test for chief minister Abdullah, who came to power last year promising to improve human rights.

Even where curfews were not in place Wednesday, life came to standstill because of a general strike called for the second day running by separatists. Shops, schools and offices were closed. 

India and Pakistan each hold Kashmir in part but claim it in full. They have fought two of their three wars over it.

Separatists have fought a decades-long battle against rule by New Delhi, favouring independence for the region or for it to join neighbour Muslim-majority Pakistan.

An anti-India insurgency, which New Delhi says is fuelled by Pakistan, has claimed an estimated 47,000 lives.

“There is a two-track struggle going on in the (Kashmir) valley,” wrote columnist Manoj Joshi in the Mail Today newspaper. “The first is a military conflict involving Pakistan-trained and armed militants…

“The second is a civil protest movement which is a melange of separatism, Islamism and alienation against misrule and lack of avenues for productive employment,” he said. (full text).

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