Three people have been killed and more than a hundred others injured in
violent clashes that have erupted in Indian Kashmir, surrounding the
controversial transfer of land to a Hindu shrine trust. Anjana Pasricha has a
report from New Delhi on the latest violence gripping the Kashmir
Security forces lobbed tear gas shells, as
thousands of angry protestors pelted them with stones in Kashmir's Summer
capital, Srinagar, and nearby towns, Thursday. Shops, businesses, schools and
colleges shut down and roads were empty.
It was the fourth straight day
that violent protests have gripped the region.
erupted after the state government decided to transfer about 40 hectares of
forest land to a Hindu board that organizes an annual pilgrimage to a popular
Hindu shrine in Kashmir.
The land is to be used to erect pre-fabricated
huts to house thousands of Hindu pilgrims who trek to the Amarnath shrine,
located in a high mountain cave.
But protesters accuse the government of
trying to change the demography of Muslim-majority Kashmir by building
settlements for Hindus.
At least three people have died and 100 others
injured in the clashes, so far.
The state's chief minister, Ghulam Nabi
Azad, has appealed for peace and has pledged that their will no construction on
the land until the issue is resolved.
Azad says he will convene a meeting
of all political parties to give everyone an opportunity to present their point
of view and to build a consensus.
But it may not be easy to find a
solution to the contentious issue. The demonstrations in Kashmir have raised
tempers among Hindu groups in Kashmir's Winter capital, Jammu.
nationalist group, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, shut down Jammu City, Thursday. It
has threatened to block supplies of essential commodities to Srinagar, if the
government cancels the land allotment for the pilgrims.
have been demanding better facilities as they either trek or ride ponies to the
Amarnath cave to pray to an ice stalagmite they believe is a symbol of Hindu
Kashmir was wracked with violence for 15 years, as separatist
groups and Islamic militants waged a campaign to separate the region from mostly
Hindu India. However, the region has been relatively peaceful in recent