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Violence erupts as J&K mourns martyrs of 1931
Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar
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July 13, 2008 20:42 IST

Protests and heavy stone pelting near the martyrs' graveyard in the heart of Jammu and Kashmir [Images] capital Srinagar [Images] led to fresh tensions in city, where the separatists had called for a strike to commemorate the martyrs of 1931.

It was on this day in 1931 that 21 protestors were gunned down by the soldiers of Dogra Maharaja outside the Srinagar Central Jail, while they were protesting against his autocratic rule.

The first to visit the graveyard on Sunday morning was Kashmir Divisional Commissioner Mehboob Iqbal, who laid a wreath at the graves of the 1931 martyrs.

However, trouble started when groups of youth shouting anti-government slogans indulged in stone pelting at the People's Democratic Party leaders and the National Conference rally on Sunday morning.

As PDP President Mehbooba Mufti reached the graveyard along with other senior leaders of her party, protestors shouting pro-freedom slogans started pelting stones from outside the martyrs' graveyard at Khawaja Bazaar in old city, forcing Mehbooba Mufti and other PDP leaders to leave the venue immediately. This despite unprecedented security measures in and around the graveyard.

National Conference President Omar Abdullah led nearly 2,000 supporters and reached the graveyard on Sunday morning. However, as he started addressing his supporters, during which he lambasted the separatist leaders for what he said "their double speak", angry mobs again indulged in stone pelting outside the graveyard.

Police had to use batons to chase the mobs who, however, continued to re-group in by lanes near Nowhatta and Khanyar localities in the old city.

Police and Central Reserve Police Force personnel fired several warning shots and resorted to tear gas shelling and baton charge to disperse the mob while Omar Abdullah and his supporters were leaving the venue. Window panes of several vehicles carrying the NC workers also faced the mob fury.

Meanwhile, senior All Parties Hurriyat Conference leaders Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Moulvi Omar Farooq reached the martyr's graveyard leading a massive procession later in the day.

Thousands of people shouting slogans joined the procession Sunday afternoon which culminated at the graveyard.

Geelani and Mirwaiz addressed the rally as their supporters shouted religious and pro-freedom slogans. Both leaders, who shared the stage for the first time, asked people to boycott the forthcoming assembly elections in the state.

Shops in Srinagar were shut on Sunday in view of a strike called by the two factions of the APHC.

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