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Tens of thousands protest Indian rule in Kashmir

Kashmiri Muslims shout slogans as they protest on motorcycles on Wednesday at Khrew, near Srinagar, India.

Associated Press

Kashmiri Muslims shout slogans as they protest on motorcycles on Wednesday at Khrew, near Srinagar, India.

SRINAGAR, India — Tens of thousands of Kashmiri Muslims marched Wednesday to a town where seven people were killed over the weekend, defying a curfew in another day of massive protests against Indian rule in the Himalayan region.

Long lines of people carrying green and black protest flags thronged a big prayer ground in Khrew, a town south of Indian-controlled Kashmir's main city Srinagar, even as India's Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram appealed for an end to the violence.

The government was ready for a dialogue with Kashmiri people, Chidambaram said in a statement in India's Parliament.

The federal government has sent reinforcements to help the beleaguered state administration tackle the increasingly violent crowds who have clashed with paramilitary soldiers. At least 46 people have died over the past seven weeks.

On Wednesday, scores of civilian vehicles fitted with loudspeakers ferried people from neighboring towns and villages to pay homage to those killed in police firing and a blast at a police station in Khrew on Sunday. They chanted slogans "Go India, go back" and "We'll take bullets on our heads but we'll not give up."

Muslim-majority Kashmir is divided between predominantly Hindu India and Muslim-majority Pakistan but claimed by both. Separatist politicians and militants in Kashmir reject Indian sovereignty over the region and want to carve out a separate homeland or merge with Pakistan.

The recent unrest in the Himalayan region is reminiscent of the late 1980s, when protests against New Delhi's rule sparked an armed conflict that has since claimed 68,000 lives, mostly civilians.

Tens of thousands protest Indian rule in Kashmir 08/04/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 4, 2010 11:20pm]

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