Srinagar/New Delhi, August 14 : Jammu and Kashmir police shot dead one protester as huge crowds shouting slogans took to the streets of Kashmir on Thursday against the revocation of land allotted to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB).
Seven demonstrators were wounded when police opened fire to disperse protesters in Srinagar. Protesters torched a police vehicle and hoisted green flags in several areas of Kashmir valley.
The row pits Muslims in Kashmir against Hindus in Jammu-- the two main regions which make up the state of Jammu and Kashmir-- in what is one of the hardest challenges facing Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh's government since it took office in 2004.
The crisis has also raised tensions with Pakistan. India has criticised Islamabad for interfering in its internal affairs by calling for U.N. intervention in the region that both claim in full but rule in parts.
At least 22 protesters have been killed by police firing this week, inflaming tensions. More than 500 people have been injured in clashes.
Most of the streets in Srinagar were deserted on Thursday except security patrols on the roads.
Police and soldiers increased security around a stadium in Srinagar where Independence Day celebrations are to be held on Friday.
Separatist groups called for a general strike and labelled Friday as a "black day".
A curfew remained in force in many parts of the state, but the protests appeared not to have spread.
"We are here against the atrocities being committed over the people of Kashmir for the last three days, we are also here with the demand of the people that the Srinagar Muzaffarabad route should be opened. And I very respectfully appeal to the people that they should act patiently," said separatist leader Mohammed Yasin Malik, who led a protest in Srinagar.
People's Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti, who led a protest march to the governor's house said that people in the valley blamed the security forces for adopting double standards in dealing with the protestors in Jammu and Srinagar.
"There have been lot of atrocities over people of Kashmir for the last two days, more than 40 Kashmiri youths have been killed. It was a general perception in the Kashmir valley that double standards have been adopted, police and army were quite patient in dealing with the violent protests of Jammu," said she.
Meanwhile spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has appealed for confidence building among the people of both violence-hit Jammu and Kashmir regions.
"Right now the temper needs to be cooled down and mutual trust needs to built in it, because neither in the valley nor anywhere else in the country, people even expected that Jammu will have so much reaction," Sri Sri Ravi Shankar told reporters in New Delhi.
The dispute began after the Kashmir government promised to give forest land to a trust that runs Amarnath shrine. Many Muslims were enraged.
The government then rescinded its decision, which in turn angered Hindus in Jammu who attacked lorries carrying supplies to Kashmir valley.