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Page last updated at 05:19 GMT, Monday, 4 August 2008 06:19 UK

Kashmir shuts down over land row

By Altaf Hussain
BBC News, Srinagar

Pro-shrine protests in Jammu
The land transfer plans caused anger among both Muslims and Hindus

A shutdown is being observed in Indian-controlled Kashmir valley to protest against alleged assaults on Muslims in the state's Jammu region.

The Hindus in Jammu have been protesting ever since the state government rescinded the transfer of land to a Hindu shrine.

Muslims had protested saying that the move was aimed at altering the demographic balance in the area.

Violence over the transfer left five dead and hundreds wounded last month.

'Failed'

The shutdown in the Kashmir valley has been called by a prominent separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani to express solidarity with the Muslims of Jammu.

Mr Geelani has said that the administration has failed to protect the lives and properties of Muslim in Jammu.

The protests in Hindu-majority Jammu have been directed against Muslims besides the government.

Reports of alleged assaults on Muslims have been pouring in from different parts of Jammu almost every day.

There have been reports of some houses belonging to Muslims being torched in the area.

Hindu protestors in Jammu have also carried out an economic blockade of the Kashmir valley by stopping traffic on the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway for many days.

The 300-km highway is the only surface link between the Kashmir valley and the rest of India.

The blockade has dealt a serious blow to the local industry - hundreds of Delhi-bound lorries carrying fruit from the valley were stranded on the highway for days recently.

Although the highway reopened on Saturday, fruit-growers say they have suffered huge losses because the fruit has perished.


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