New wave of violence sparked by desecration of the Holy Koran in New York

Fifteen people were killed in Jammu and Kashmir and several critically injured in the worst single day of violence seen in the State where more than 70 people have been killed in bloody clashes between police and anti-India protesters since June.

The latest wave of violence began in the Shia neighbourhoods of the central Kashmir town of Badgam on Sunday night, after an Iranian television station broadcast footage of a New York resident desecrating the Holy Koran.

Local clerics appealed for restraint, and these early protests died down.

But early on Monday, police say, politicians affiliated to Islamist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani's Tehreek-e-Hurriyat used public outrage at the desecration of the Koran to initiate mob attacks on government buildings in the town and adjoining Humhama. Five people were killed when the police opened fire; a constable was crushed by a vehicle driven by an apparently-incensed protester.

Five more people were killed and at least 50 injured in the north Kashmir tourist resort of Tangmarg, where angry mobs burnt down a local prestigious Church Mission Society-affiliated Tyndale Biscoe and Mallinson School — alma mater of prominent Islamist leader Masrat Alam Bhat.

Earlier reports said that at Ajas in Bandipore, when a group of people blocked the road, chanting pro-freedom slogans, Border Security Force personnel opened fire, killing a youth, Nissar Ahmad.

The mob also destroyed municipal buildings, tourist facilities and a hut owned by the Fisheries Department

Local residents say the protests in Tangmarg were initiated by National Conference leader Ali Mohammad Sofi to express anger against the desecration of the Koran. However, elements of the mob began attacking government property.

Fatalities were also reported in clashes between police and protesters from Charar-e-Sharif, Pampore and Anantnag.

Srinagar itself, however, saw only localised clashes, as the result of a strict curfew imposed over the weekend.

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah presided over a meeting of his Cabinet, which condemned the desecration.

United States Ambassador Timothy Roemer, condemning the desecration of the Koran, said the individual responsible for the act was “well outside of the American mainstream and offend millions, including myself.”

Keywords: Kashmir unrestCRPFAFSPA