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Page last updated at 11:07 GMT, Tuesday, 7 October 2008 12:07 UK

Curfew in Kashmir comes to an end

Women in Srinagar
Shops are now open as normal

A two-day curfew in Indian-administered Kashmir has been lifted, allowing life in the Muslim-majority Kashmir Valley to return to normal.

The curfew was lifted in all the 10 districts of the valley from early on Tuesday morning.

Earlier, a committee that spearheads the campaign against India rule told people to resume normal life from Tuesday morning onwards.

The curfew was enforced to prevent a rally against Indian rule.

New programme

Shops and other business establishments have re-opened and traffic is back on the streets.

Groups demanding an end to Indian rule had urged their supporters to rally on Monday in Lal Chowk, the square in the heart of Srinagar city.

But the march did not happen.

Now the Co-ordination Committee, comprising representatives of separatist groups and trade unions, has said it will give a new programme of protest on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the Chief Election Commissioner of India, N Gopalaswami, has arrived in Srinagar along with two other Election Commission officials on a two-day visit.

Paramilitary soldiers in Srinagar (file picture)
There have been many anti-India demonstrations in Srinagar

The commission will review the situation in the state before deciding whether to hold elections this year or postpone them until 2009.

Elections are due in the state which is under direct rule from Delhi at present.

Public protests against Indian rule since August have forced pro-India political parties to suspend their activities.

The BBC's Altaf Hussain in Srinagar says that they have barely held a public meeting in the Kashmir Valley over the last three months.

The two regional parties, the National Conference and the People's Democratic Party (PDP) argue that genuine elections are not possible in the present tense climate.

But a section of opinion in Delhi favours elections on time, saying a postponement would embolden the separatist groups.

Shrine row

After some years of relative calm in the Kashmir Valley, recent months have seen some of the most intense anti-India feeling for about 20 years.

The tensions over the summer were sparked by a plan to grant land to a board that oversees the running of an important Hindu shrine.

The proposal led to serious friction between the Muslims of the valley and their neighbours in the Hindu-dominated Jammu region.

The dispute fuelled anti-India sentiment in the valley, and there was a series of large marches.

More than 30 people have been killed by the police since the protests began in August.


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