Strict curfew returns to most parts of Indian-ruled Kashmir ahead of Friday prayers

Published February 15, 2013

| Associated Press

Authorities have re-introduced a strict curfew across most of Indian-controlled Kashmir ahead of Friday prayers, as residents in the region simmer with anger over the secret execution of a Kashmiri man in the capital.

The restive Himalayan region was rocked by violent anti-India protests after Mohammed Afzal Guru was hanged Saturday in a New Delhi jail and buried there. Guru had been convicted for his role in a deadly 2001 attack on India's Parliament that killed 14 including five gunmen.

Many in Kashmir believe Guru did not get a fair trial and the secrecy with which the execution was carried out only fuelled the anger in a region where anti-India sentiment runs deep.

A curfew has been in place since the execution, but groups of demonstrators have defied it and clashed with government forces. Three protesters have been killed and more than 100 have been detained, according to police.

The curfew was relaxed in some areas in recent days, but was restored ahead of Friday prayers in this Muslim majority region.

Early Friday morning, police drove through the streets of Srinagar, the region's main city, ordering residents to stay indoors. The return of the strict curfew comes as the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, an umbrella organization of separatist political and religious groups, called for a mass funeral prayer for Guru to be held Friday at a large square near Srinagar's Martyr's Graveyard, where hundreds of separatists and civilians killed in the region's long-running conflict are buried.

Insurgents have been fighting in Kashmir for more than two decades, demanding either a separate state or merger with Muslim-majority Pakistan. The region is divided between India and Pakistan and claimed in its entirety by both.

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