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Land issue: Pitched battles continue in Valley
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June 28, 2008 12:59 IST

Clashes continued for the sixth day on Saturday between police and demonstrators at several places in the Kashmir Valley as the protests against transfer of forest land to the Amarnath shrine board intensified.

Rejecting the appeal of Governor N N Vohra and Chief Minister Ghulam [Images] Nabi Azad, the protesters poured on the streets and thorough fares of the city early Saturday morning, demanding revocation of order under which 39.88 hectares of forest land were transferred to the Amarnath board last month.

Both Vohra and Azad had appealed to the people to maintain peace and calm till the resolution of the issue. The chief minister made a televised appeal on Friday in this regard but separatists, who have been spearheading the agitation, rejected it as a mere eyewash.

The protesters engaged police and paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force in pitched battles at various places across the city, the sources said, adding police fired several rounds of tear smoke shells at Budshah chowk and adjacent areas to disperse the mob.

However, the police action proved futile as the protesters, after dispersing temporarily, reassembled to continue their agitation, they said.

They said mobs had also gathered at Sonawar, Batamaloo, Jehangir Chowk, Qamarwari, Hazratbal, Lal Ded and Safakadal areas of the city.

The protesters indulged in stone pelting at police and CRPF personnel at Rambagh, Barzulla and some other areas of the city, the sources said.

So far there were no reports of any injuries to either side in the clashes.

Three persons have been killed and more than 300 injured during agitations in the region over the week.

Although no political outfit has called for a strike on Saturday, shops and business establishments and educational institutions remained closed while public transport remained off the road in all the districts of the valley.

The government has already announced closure of schools and other educational institutions for two days while attendance in government and other offices was almost zero owing the lack of transport facilities in the city.

The separatists groups have alleged that the government was planning to construct colonies for settling people from outside the state on the pattern of Israeli settlements to change the demographic character of the Jammu and Kashmir [Images].

Even mainstream political parties including People's Democratic Party, a junior partner in the state's ruling coalition, opposition National Conference and CPI-M state secretary M Y Tarigami have also demanded revocation of the land transfer order.

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