Hindu dharma is implicitly at odds with monotheistic intolerance. What is happening in India is a new historical awakening... Indian intellectuals, who want to be secure in their liberal beliefs, may not understand what is going on. But every other Indian knows precisely what is happening: deep down he knows that a larger response is emerging even if at times this response appears in his eyes to be threatening.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Kashmir police clash with hundreds of Muslim protesters over Hindu land

SRINAGAR (Reuters) - Police in Srinagar fired tear gas and used batons on Monday to disperse hundreds of Muslim demonstrators protesting against a government decision to transfer forest land to a Hindu shrine trust.

Authorities last week said nearly 100 acres of forest land in Kashmir was being transferred to Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) to erect temporary structures for thousands of pilgrims who annually trek to a cave shrine deep in the Himalayas.

“Don’t grab our land, we want freedom,” protesters shouted.

Police detained at least 50 protesters from different parts of Srinagar, witnesses said.

Around 250,000 Hindus fled the Kashmir valley after a separatist Muslim rebellion broke out in 1989. Only about 10,000 Hindus remain after years of violent insurgency in India’s only Muslim-majority region.

The protest was called by Kashmiri separatists who also say the fragile ecology of the mountainous region will be ruined by building “permanent” structures at base camps of the pilgrimage.

The government said the charge was misleading.

“The propaganda is unleashed by some people with vested interests … special measures were initiated keeping in view the environmental requirements,” S. K. Sinha, state’s governor and chief of SASB, said in a statement.

During the two-month-long pilgrimage, tens of thousands of devout Hindus walk and ride ponies to the cave, situated at an altitude of 3,800 meters (12,700 feet), to pray by an ice stalagmite they believe to be a symbol of Hindu god Lord Shiva.

The pilgrimage has been targeted several times by separatist militants.


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