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Hurriyat leader among 5 killed in J&K violence

Hurriyat leader among 5 killed in J&K violence

Tension has gripped the Valley, forcing authorities to impose indefinite curfew.

Srinagar: Five people, including a senior leader of Jammu and Kashmir's moderate Hurriyat faction, were killed in clashes with security forces as they marched towards the Line of Control in Baramulla district. Tension has gripped the Kashmir valley, forcing authorities to impose indefinite curfew in major cities and towns.

Sheikh Abdul Aziz, separatist leader and executive member of the moderate Hurriyat faction, was killed in Baramulla district while participating in the 'Muzaffarabad Chalo' march.

A huge procession of fruit growers and people, numbering nearly 30,000, was being led by senior Hurriyat leaders Shabir Ahmad Shah and Sheikh Abdul Aziz from the north Kashmir town of Sopore. They were marching towards Muzaffarabad in Pakistani Kashmir as part of the 'Muzaffarabad Chalo' call given by the fruit growers and supported by both groups of the Hurriyat conference.

The protesters were intercepted at the Sangrama crossing on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road, but the unrelenting protesters attacked a paramilitary patrol at Sangrama and torched two vehicles of the police.

The security forces opened fire on them, killing two protesters and wounding four others.

The protesters continued their march towards the Uri border town in north Kashmir's Baramulla district and were joined by hundreds more en route.

The protesters were carrying the body of the two slain youth.

Their march towards the Line of Control (LOC) was intercepted by the security forces at Chahal, 25 km before the Uri border in Baramulla district.

"The protesters were asked to return back as curfew had been imposed in the area, but they refused to return and instead started breaking the barricades erected by the security forces.

"After baton charge and tear smoke failed to deter the mob, the security forces had to fire at the protesters in which one person was killed and the senior Hurriyat leader, Sheikh Abdul Aziz was injured," a senior police officer said here.

Aziz was shifted to the SMHS hospital in summer capital Srinagar where he later succumbed to his injuries, gripping the summer capital with high tension.

Aziz, 53, was the chairman of the People's League and had joined the moderate Hurriyat group in January this year after his release from jail. He belonged to the south Kashmir Pampore town.

Earlier in the day, thousands of protesters gathered at Parimpora area of Srinagar city, pelting stones at police and the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).

"Police and paramilitary forces used batons and tear smoke to disperse the violent mob, which kept on regrouping and attacking the police and CRPF with stones," a police official said.

"Police had to use rubber bullets to disperse the mob injuring 20 people, one of whom later died in the hospital," police here said.

Reports of pitched battles between the security forces and protesters also came in from south Kashmir's Anantnag and Pulwama districts.

In the massive violence across the Valley Monday, more than 200 people, including protesters and police and paramilitary personnel, were injured.
first published:August 11, 2008, 20:39 IST