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Indian Kashmir Gov't Revokes Decision to Transfer Land to Hindus


Government officials in Indian-controlled Kashmir have formally revoked a decision to give land to Hindu pilgrims, after days of protests in the majority-Muslim region.

Members of the Jammu-Kashmir state Cabinet met Tuesday in Kashmir's main town of Srinagar and officially canceled the transfer of 40 hectares of land to a Hindu religious trust.

At least five people have been killed and hundreds injured in nine days of protests by Muslims, who say the land transfer is a conspiracy to change the region's demographics.

The state's decision comes as authorities placed several top separatist leaders under house arrest to deter further protests.

Police say those placed under house arrest Tuesday include Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Shabir Shah and Mohammad Yasin Malik. Another separatist leader, Syed Ali Geelani, managed to evade police.

Meanwhile, demonstrations continued in Srinagar Tuesday, as thousands of people made their way to a mosque for a rally. And in the mainly-Hindu city of Jammu, Hindu activists clashed with police, who used live ammunition to disperse protesters. Schools and businesses also remained closed throughout the Himalayan valley.

Each year, thousands of Hindu pilgrims travel to a cave holding a massive icicle, considered to be a symbol of the Hindu god Lord Shiva.

Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan, but claimed by both. Islamic separatist groups have been fighting for independence from India or a merger with Pakistan since 1989.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.


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