Geelani, Malik join thousands in protests in Kashmir

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Srinagar, Sep 14 (UNI) Chairman of breakaway Hurriyat Conference (HC) Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chief Mohammad Yaseen Malik were among thousands of people who today protested here against the desecration of holy shrine of Peer Dastigir Sahib yesterday.

Raising slogans, thousands of people, including JKLF chief Mr Malik and senior separatist leader Javid Ahmad Mir, gathered near the shrine at Saraibala since early this morning.

They were later joined by other leaders, including Mr Geelani, who has been released after about 12 days of house arrest.

Addressing the protestors Mr Geelani appealed to people to follow the directions of the Coordination Committee (CC), spearheading the present agitation in Kashmir.

People should not observe any strike without the call of the CC, an alliance of both the factions of the HC, JKLF and other separatist, traders and fruit growers and lawyers.

Mr Geelani also appealed to people, particularly youths, to avoid indulging in stone pelting during demonstrations.

''I appeal to you to exercise restrain,'' he said.

Without naming any political party, he said some leaders of the national mainstream parties, who are eager to grab the power again in the state, were saying that if only five per cent votes would be cast they would contest elections. The National Conference (NC) patron Farooq Abdullah had recently said that if the Election Commission (EC) wants polls in Jammu and Kashmir nobody can stop it even if only five per cent will cast their votes.

Dr Abdullah had said that Mr Geelani, Mirwaiz Omar Farooq, Mohammad Yaseen Malik and Shabir Ahmad Shah cannot decide about polls, but it is the EC which has to take decision.

He asked people to continue peaceful demonstrations as per the programme given by the CC.

Yesterday, immediately after the news spread about the desecration of the shrine, thousands of people visited it.

However, situation in other parts of the city was by and large normal.

UNI BAS SK KN1549

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