Tens of thousands of Muslims took to the streets of Indian administered
Kashmir Saturday to mourn the death of a separatist leader. For VOA,
Shanawaz Khan has this report from Srinagar in India-administered
Protesters traveled from Kashmir's main town Srinagar
to the hometown Pampur of Sheikh Abdul Aziz who, along with 21 others,
was killed by police this week in street battles.
Police kept their distance from Saturday's demonstration to avoid triggering another clash.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called Friday for an end to the protests
and violence, saying "all issues can be resolved only through dialogue
and peaceful means."
At least 500 people were wounded in clashes this week between Kashmir Muslim protesters and Indian security forces.
was killed on Monday along with four others in police firing while
leading a march to Muzaffarabad in Pakistan administered Kashmir, to
protest a so-called economic blockade of the Muslim-dominated Kashmir
Valley by right wing Hindu groups of Jammu province.
was triggered by the state government's decision in June to donate
land to a Hindu shrine. Kashmir Muslims staged mass protests, forcing
the government to revoke the transfer, which angered Hindus in Jammu
province who launched protests and enforced a blockade of Kashmir
Separatist leader and Kashmir's main cleric Mirwaiz Umar says the issue has moved beyond land transfer.
it is beyond land transfer," he said. "Now people are saying that
anytime fundamentalists in India or in other regions of Jammu can cause
an economic blockade in Kashmir. People are demanding that they have a
birth right to trade with other side of Kashmir. Why can't we look for
alternative market if we can have."
In India's capital, New
Delhi, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called Friday for an end to
the violence, saying divisive politics will lead the country nowhere.
He said it is his conviction that all issues can be resolved only
through dialogue and peaceful means.
Kashmir is divided between
Pakistan and India, and claimed by both. The dispute has led to two of
the three wars between the nuclear-armed rivals. Islamic separatists
have been fighting for Kashmir's independence from India, or for the
region's merger with Pakistan.