Kashmir takes to streets

Srinagar, Sept 29 | Updated: Sep 30 2006, 05:30am hrs
Hundreds of people took to the streets in Kashmir on Friday to protest the upcoming execution of Mohammad Afzal Guru for his role in the 2001 Parliament attack. Life was crippled by a strike called by separatists.

Police used batons and teargas to disperse protestors who marched through the streets after Friday prayers. They demanded that Guru, a resident of a village near Sopore, be pardoned. Many women joined the protests at several places.

The valley has witnessed widespread protests over the past three days after a Delhi court fixed October 20, one of the holiest days of the month of Ramzan, for the execution.

Syed Ali Shah Geelani, chairman of the hardline faction of the Hurriyat, remained under house arrest for the second day on Friday, while Democratic Freedom party president Shabir Ahmad Shah and National Front chief Mohammad Nayeem Khan, too, were placed under house arrest Friday morning.

The three leaders were planning to lead protests at different places in the valley on Friday, officials said.

Educational institutions, shops, businesses and courts were closed and public transport stayed off the roads. Attendance in government offices was thin, officials said.

The strike was called by Geelanis Hurriyat faction.