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High-level delegation to visit Srinagar to assess unrest

From Mukhtar Ahmad, CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • 105 people have died in unrest in Indian-administered Kashmir since June 11
  • The latest deaths Sunday were those of three youths and a 25-year-old woman
  • Muslim-majority Kashmir is claimed by both India and Pakistan

Srinagar, India (CNN) -- A delegation of political leaders is expected to visit Srinagar on Monday for an on-the-spot appraisal of the deadly unrest here.

Thousands of police and paramilitary troopers dotted the streets of Srinagar over the weekend to strictly enforce a curfew ahead of the crucial visit .

The delegation, representing a cross-section of the political spectrum of India, will include India's finance minister, Pranab Mukherjee, and the Indian home minister, P. Chidambaram, in addition to representatives from the main opposition party and other parties.

The delegation, which will be in Srinagar for two days, is likely to meet leaders of various pro-India parties.

The hard-line separatist leader, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, spearheading the ongoing agitation in Kashmir has already announced his decision not to meet the delegation.

"The mandate of the delegation is limited to talking within the framework of the Indian constitution," he said.

Meanwhile on Sunday, three youths who had been critically wounded in the unrest died. A 25-year-old woman also died after a late-evening incident in the town of Sopore.

Sunday's deaths put the toll from unrest in Kashmir at 105 lives since June 11.

The Sunday-evening incident occurred when Indian security forces opened fire to quell a stone-throwing mob in Bomai village near Sopore in north Kashmir, authorities said.

A police spokesman said the woman was in critical condition when she was taken to the capital, Srinagar, for treatment but she died there.

A round-the-clock curfew was re-imposed late Saturday evening after it had been relaxed for a few hours in parts of the capital. Stone-throwing mobs clashed with security forces in some areas of the old city.

Geelani has scaled down his sit-in program outside army garrisons and has now instead asked people to hold peaceful protests at district levels to demand complete withdrawal of Indian troops from Kashmir.

Ali Mohammad Sagar, a senior minister of the state government, welcomed the decision of Geelani saying "it will save the precious lives."

Thousands of people joined the funeral of the three youths who died Sunday.

The three had been injured last week when security forces fired in the towns of Awantipore and Anantnag in south Kashmir and in Tappar in north Kashmir.

Aside from the 105 deaths, the unrest has left hundreds wounded, many of them critically.

Muslim-majority Kashmir is claimed by both India and Pakistan. India deployed thousands of troops in Kashmir to guard against what Indian leaders believe was a Pakistan-backed insurgency that began in late 1980s.

That insurgency, which India says claimed more than 43,000 lives, is no longer raging but the troops have remained and new separatist unrest broke out in June.

 
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