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Eid prayers turn into protests in Indian Kashmir

INDIA: Prayers to mark the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan turned into noisy anti-India demonstrations in restive Indian Kashmir on Wednesday.

Thousands of Muslims, including women and children, chanted “we want freedom” after they gathered in the main city of Srinagar to offer prayers on the festival of Eid al-Fitr.

Hundreds of riot police were deployed across Srinagar, witnesses said.

Over the past few months, the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley has been hit by some of the biggest pro-freedom demonstrations since the eruption of an insurgency against New Delhi’s rule in 1989.

The protests were triggered by a row over a government donation of Kashmiri land to a Hindu pilgrimage trust and spiralled into anti-India demonstrations that have left more than 40 Muslim protesters dead.

“We will take the ongoing freedom struggle to its logical conclusion,” senior separatist Yasin Malik told worshippers in Srinagar. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who heads Indian Kashmir’s moderate separatist grouping, used the festivities to send a stern message to New Delhi.

“India is using its might to crush our movement but it will not succeed,” said Farooq.

Other parts of India will celebrate Eid on Thursday but Kashmir traditionally follows Pakistan, where the new moon which signals the start of the festival was sighted late Tuesday.

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