1 killed, 40 injured in clashes during curfew in Kashmir

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Srinagar/Jammu, Aug 24 (UNI) A day ahead of a political rally in the Kashmir valley, an indefinite curfew was imposed in the major towns early this morning, triggering clashes in which at least one person was killed and 40 others, defying the restrictions, were injured when security forces burst teargas shells to quell protestors.

The curfew was imposed in Srinagar and other major towns in the valley since 0400 hrs as a precautionary measure, an official spokesman said.

He added that people have been appealed to cooperate with the law-enforcing agencies and help maintain peace and order.

One person was killed when CRPF opened fire at Dalgate area while elsewhere in the summer capital 40 others were injured when security forces burst teargas shells to disperse thousands of people who defied curfew restrictions in the city and other areas in the valley.

Official sources said a patrol party of the CRPF returning to their camp, housed in a local hotel at Dalgate, opened fire on two persons who were sitting near their house on the roadside this afternoon. Both the injured were admitted to hospital where one of them was declared brought dead.

Later, people of the entire area took to streets raising ''pro-freedom'' and anti-CRPF slogans.

The historic Lal Chowk, which was to be the venue of tomorrow's meeting of the Coordination Committee (CC), spearheading the present agitation in the Kashmir valley, was sealed from all sides.

The CC has given a call for 'Lal Chowk Chalo' tomorrow. The Committee, an alliance of both the factions of the Hurriyat Conference (HC), other separatist organisations, the Kashmir Bar Association and social and trade organisations are demanding opening of the Sriangar-Muzaffarabad road for trade, release of all detenues and withdrawal of troops and special powers to security forces in the state.

About a dozen separatist leaders were arrested while some went underground during the day.

At 0045 hrs in the morning, the house of breakaway HC spokesman Aiyaz Akbar was raided by the Special Operation Group (SOG) of J &K police and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and he was later arrested.

Official sources said a number of other separatist leaders were taken into preventive custody.

In north Kashmir, at least 20 people were injured when security forces fired in the air and burst teargas shells to disperse thousands of people who defied the curfew restrictions.

Official sources said about 3000 people took to streets at Handwara in the frontier district of Kupwara immediately after the curfew was announced.

As the processionists blocked all the roads, the security forces resorted to lathicharge, burst teargas shells and also fired several rounds in the air to disperse them.

At least nine mediapersons were also injured, after they were allegedly beaten up by the CRPF in different parts of Srinagar.

Last evening, thousands of people held processions on the streets with 'mashaals' in their hands in almost all parts of the valley.

Following communal tension in the Poonch district of Jammu region, the administration clamped curfew in the area for precautionary measures, official sources said.

''The clashes that broke out between people of two groups took a violent turn and authorities had to call out the Army and the curfew has been imposed,'' a senior police official told UNI.

Some miscreants set on fire 40 shops in Poonch city and damaged 20 others.

''During clashes, about a dozen police personnel and some civilians also got injured while two companies of CRPF have been air-lifted to the district to pacify the situation,'' police sources added.

Meanwhile, the three x x x picking up from para two of DR 22 AGITATION-KASHMIR-LEAD CURFEW THREE LAST SRINAGAR/JAMMU.

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