One dead, more than 100 injured in riots over Rushdie book


SRINAGAR, India -- Moslem fundamentalists enraged by the U.S. publication of a book deemed offensive to Islam rioted Monday in clashes that left at least one person dead and more than 100 injured, police said.

The death brought to six the number of people killed since Sunday in protests by Islamic militants in Pakistan and India over the release in the United States of 'The Satanic Verses,' a novel by Indian-born author Salman Rushdie.


The novel, which is in the running for Britain's highest literary award, the Booker Prize, contains a portrait of the founder of a fictional religion that many Moslems consider a parody on the life of the Prophet Mohammad.

Police used tear gas and bullets to quell the violence in Srinagar, the summer capital of India's northern Jammu and Kashmir state, which borders on Pakistan.

In the Fatah Kadal neighborhood, demonstrators hurled gasoline bombs and rocks at a contingent of police protecting a Hindu temple that was recently the target of vandalism by Moslem militants.

The officers responded first with tear gas barrages and then with gunfire that killed at least one person, police said.

The rioting erupted during a strike called by Moslem fundamentalist organizations to demand that the United States join a number of other nations in banning the book Moslems regard as blasphemous.


The work stoppage was reported near-total in many Moslem areas of the state, which has some 6 million people and is the only one in India with a Moslem majority. A number of road blocks were set up and several state-owned buses stoned for operating in defiance of the strike.

Hundreds of protesters gathered in the old section of Srinagar, 400 miles northwest of New Delhi, and attempted to march to the headquarters of a U.N. peace-keeping contingent that has been in the state since the end of the 1948 Indo-Pakistan war.

Police blocked the procession route, sparking clashes between baton-flailing officers and rock-hurling protesters, police said.

The demonstrators dispersed but regrouped in about a dozen locations and stoned vehicles and several banks and government offices, police said. Police fired tear gas and staged numerous baton-charges to disperse the crowds.

In all, about 45 police officers and some 75 demonstrators were injured during the unrest, police said.

The Srinigar violence came a day after five people were killed and 60 others wounded during a demonstration against the U.S. publication of 'Satanic Verses' in front of the U.S. cultural center in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad.

Police said they believed the protests in Jammu and Kashmir were provoked by scenes of the Islamabad demonstration Sunday seen on Pakistani television broadcasts received in the state.


The Bombay-born Rushdie, who majored in Islamic studies at Cambridge University and resides in London, has rejected charges his work is blasphemous and that he based the character of the Prophet Mahound on the Prophet Mohammad.

Rushdie 'was devastated by the news' of the violence, Clare Harrington, a spokeswoman for Penguin Books in London, told United Press International on Monday. 'We too are very saddened but we stand by the book.'

The book was outlawed in India and Pakistan and several Islamic nations when it was first published last year.

'The deaths are not on my conscience,' Rushdie was quoted in Monday's editions of the Times of London. 'I am a writer trying to deal with real issues. I have not arranged any marches on embassies or arranged for any shots to be fired.'

'I am horrified,' he said. 'The idea that people should directly or indirectly be dead as a result of it is hard to believe.'

But, he added, he could not 'accept the need to undertake cuts. That is mob rule.'

Rushdie won the Booker Prize in 1981 for 'Midnight's Children,' a novel set at the time India received independence from Britain on Aug. 15, 1947.


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