Kashmir on edge; Srinagar paralyzed

Several separatist leaders are under house arrest in India-controlled Kashmir, as a complete general strike has paralyzed Srinagar for four days following the death of a protesting youth in the city Aug. 5. Separatist leaders Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and Shabir Ahmad Shah were placed under house arrest to prevent their proposed march to the headquarters of the UN Military Observers Group (UNMOG). (Indo-Asian News Service, Aug. 8)

The Indian army is preparing to send 10,000 extra soldiers to Kashmir yesterday amid fears of spreading Hindu-Muslim violence. Fifteen people have been killed and hundreds injured in riots since the state’s government rescinded a decision to give about 100 acres of forest land to the Hindu cave shrine of Amarnath to build shelters for pilgrims. The move, which followed demonstrations by Kashmir’s Muslim majority, caused violent Hindu protests this week. (London Times, Aug. 8)

The army Aug. 6 claimed its troops came under small arms fire from across the Line of Control (LoC) in north Kashmir’s Nowgam sector—a week after Indian and Pakistani forces clashed for 16 hours in the worst violation of 2003 ceasefire between the two countries. New Delhi says the fighting began July 30 when Pakistani troops fired mortars towards Naina post in the sector. One Indian soldier was killed in the ensuing clash. In the first week of July, 12 infiltrators were killed by the Indian army near Sadna between Tanghdar and Nowgam sectors of the LoC. Six soldiers, including three officers, were also killed in the operation. (Indian Express, Aug. 6)

A Glasgow councillor with family roots in Pakistan has been suspended by the Scottish National Party for firing an AK-47 at a paramilitary camp while holidaying in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir. Jahangir Hanif, whose photo appeared under the headline “Councillor Kalashnikov,” admitted his behavior had been “foolish and inappropriate.” (Times of India, Aug. 9)

See our last post on Kashmir.