New Delhi - At least two people were killed and dozens injured as Hindus blocked trains and traffic and forced the closure of markets during a shut-down in India on Thursday to protest the cancellation of transfer of land for a popular Hindu pilgrimage.
The shut-down was called by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party to protest the decision by northern Jammu and Kashmir state to revoke its order transferring 40 hectares of forest land to a trust that organizes the annual pilgrimage to the Amarnath cave.
Jammu, a Hindu majority region in the mostly Muslim state, saw violent protests over the past fortnight, first by Muslims against the land transfer and later by Hindus angry that the order was withdrawn.
Administration officials said two people were killed and 10 others injured, four of them seriously when protestors clashed with the police in the Indore city in central Madhya Pradesh state.
Police baton-charged demonstrators and fired tear-gas shells to disperse stone-pelting crowds in the city.
A curfew was imposed and additional police officers despatched to sensitive areas in the city where Hindus and Muslims clashed, local police said.
Jammu, the epicentre of the protests, remained tense. There was no let-up in the violence as more than 30 people were injured when protestors fought pitched battles with police and set afire vehicles.
In the eastern Bihar and northern Uttar Pradesh and Punjab states, BJP-VHP activists took part in protest marches, damaged vehicles and squatted on rail tracks bringing trains to a halt.
In the national capital New Delhi, some markets closed down after protests in certain areas.
Daily life was disrupted in parts of Haryana, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Assam and Jharkand where incidents of road blockades and stone-pelting were reported.
The unrest against the government's transfer of land to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board, a trust that organizes the Amarnath pilgrimage, which began two weeks ago in the Muslim-dominated Kashmir valley.
Muslim separatist leaders, who initially called for the protests, said the decision was part of a conspiracy to settle non-Muslims in the region with the aim of altering the demographic character of the state.
The violence claimed five lives and injured over 500 people before the order was revoked, drawing the ire of Hindus.
Kashmir, a picturesque region, has been hit by protracted violence and bloodshed since a separatist revolt peaked in the late 1980s.
According to government data, more than 40,000 people - civilians, militants and security forces - have been killed in Indian- administered Kashmir since the 1990s. (dpa)
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