Kashmir shuts down in strike against planned townships

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SHAFAQNA –  The residents of Indian-administered Kashmir have held a complete shutdown strike in reaction to a New Delhi plan to build new controversial townships across the disputed region.

On Saturday, almost all institutions and businesses remained closed, and traffic stayed off the streets in Srinagar, the summer capital of the Kashmir region, and some other major towns of the disputed Himalayan valley.

Reports also indicated that all schools and government offices remained closed in the Muslim-majority region.

The one-day strike was called by the pro-independence groups that oppose New Delhi’s rule over the troubled valley.

An Indian security personnel stands guard in front of closed shops during a strike in Srinagar, April 11, 2015.

The latest strike comes as New Delhi decided to build a number of townships to accommodate some 200,000 Hindus.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed recently announced that the local government would acquire land to create “composite townships” for the Hindus.

The controversial decision sparked clashes between police and protesters on Friday, leaving 20 people injured.

Kashmiri leaders have called the plan a conspiracy to create settlements along religious lines.

The chairman of the pro-independence Jammu-Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) has compared the plan to that of Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land.

“We will not allow anybody to turn Kashmir into another Palestine,” media outlets quoted Mohammad Yasin Malik as saying.

Kashmiri demonstrators clash with police during a protest in Srinagar, April 10, 2015. (© AFP)

Indian authorities have deployed large contingents of police and paramilitary troops to most parts of Srinagar and several other major towns to prevent street demonstrations.

Kashmir lies at the heart of more than 67 years of hostility between India and Pakistan. Both neighbors claim the region in full but have partial control over it.

The neighbors agreed on a ceasefire in 2003, and launched a peace process the following year. Since then, there have been sporadic clashes, with both sides accusing the other of violating the ceasefire.

Thousands of people have been killed in the Kashmir clashes for more than two decades.

Source : Press TV

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