Kashmiri separatist groups called for a complete shutdown on Thursday to protest against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit as Hurriyat Conference leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani said visiting a Muslim-majority state on Diwali was “nothing but cultural aggression”.
Police tightened security across the state on fears of separatist protests during Modi’s visit to the Valley to spend Diwali with flood-affected families. The visit seems to be intended to soothe frayed nerves in the Valley following the alleged failure of the state administration to provide immediate relief to people after the state’s worst floods in a century.
"Diwali in the Muslim-majority state of Jammu and Kashmir is nothing but cultural aggression on the part of Modi. His stay in Kashmir on Diwali is nothing but an election stunt. India wants to show the world that they are with flood-hit Kashmiris. It is ridiculous,” said Geelani.
Geelani and separatist JKLF chief Yasin Malik called for a daylong shutdown in Kashmir where anger has been running high among thousands of flood victims who were driven out of their homes.
“Modi's Kashmir visit is an act of politicising a human tragedy. Kashmiris will observe a complete shutdown against this visit," said Malik, while issuing shutdown call.
Jammu and Kashmir is due to go the polls by early next year and the BJP is hoping to move from the political margins in the Valley to emerge as an alternative to established parties facing increasing disillusionment among people.
The BJP, which did well in Jammu in the Lok Sabha election, is working overtime to gain a foothold in the Valley which is key to the party’s aim to win 44 seats in the 87-member assembly.
In the wake of the shutdown call, police beefed up security in politically-sensitive areas. A senior police official said on condition of anonymity a drill to provide foolproof security was in place.
"We cannot rule out anything. There are many elements out there," said the police official.