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Wednesday, 27 March, 2002, 11:12 GMT
Kashmir strike shuts down state
Indian soldier guarding empty Srinagar street
The strike has been effective in most Kashmiri cities
A day-long strike called to protest against the arrest of Yasin Malik, leader of the separatist Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), has shut down most of Indian-administered Kashmir.

Yasin Malik being given a medical check up after his arrest
The JKLF leader has heart problems

Mr Malik was detained on Tuesday after a Kashmiri girl and her companion were detained and around $100,000 was recovered from them.

Officials say the money was being smuggled from Nepal and was intended for Mr Malik, who denies this.

All three have been charged with violations of foreign exchange regulations and the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance (Poto).

Life disrupted

The strike was called by an umbrella separatist group, the All Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC), which counts Mr Malik as one of its leaders.

Srinagar woman walks with her children
Srinagar has become a city of pedestrians

The strike closed down schools, shops, banks and post offices in Srinagar, Kashmir's summer capital.

Most vehicles too have stayed off the roads.

Local residents told the French news agency AFP that the strike was being observed in other major towns like Pulwama, Shopian, Baramulla and Sopore.

Mr Malik's arrest is being given political interpretations by some.

Election politics

Just before being taken away Mr Malik said he was being arrested because he had refused to take part in the state legislative assembly elections scheduled later this year.

India's Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has recently urged all Kashmiris to take part in the polls saying these would be free and fair.

A former Home Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayed, says Mr Malik was arrested to ensure separatist leaders did not participate in the elections.

There has been no response from the government in Srinagar, or Delhi, so far.

Mr Malik heads the JKLF, one of the longest-established separatist groups in Indian Kashmir.

See also:

25 Mar 02 | South Asia
Kashmir separatist on terror charges
12 Feb 02 | South Asia
Kashmir separatists announce poll move
02 Nov 01 | South Asia
Kashmiri separatist leader attacked
27 Sep 01 | South Asia
Security fears for Kashmir separatists
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