Violent protests over historic mosque 'demolition' in Kashmir

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SRINAGAR, Jammu & Kashmir, India -- Irate crowds of Muslims protesting over the alleged demolition of an ancient mosque clashed with the riot police along the streets of Srinagar on Friday, leaving at least 15 people injured.

The authorities here, however, strongly refuted the allegation that the mosque had been pulled down by the security forces, and said that it had caved in due to lack of maintenance...

The now almost flattened mosque stood, in conformity with Kashmir’s ethos, close to a Hindu temple and a Sikh gurdwara inside an 18th century fort built by an Afghan governor atop the Hari Parbat hill in the heart of Srinagar.

With the outbreak of separatist violence back in 1989-90, the security forces had taken control of the fort completely.

When it was reopened to the public around 10 days back after a gap of 17 years, following the withdrawal of the forces, visitors were stunned to see that while both Hindu and Sikh places of worship were intact and had been looked after well, the mosque had "disappeared."

Anger is growing within the Valley, which is predominantly Muslim, and separatist politicians and clerics are squarely blaming the government for the "desecration." Officials of the state archaeological department insist, however, that the mosque was not razed but that it collapsed on its own after being left unattended for years.

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