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Kashmir under heavy security for PM visit

Kashmir was under tight security on Wednesday as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was due to arrive in the insurgency-hit region on a two-day tour.

india Updated: Oct 28, 2009 08:01 IST

Kashmir was under tight security on Wednesday as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was due to arrive in the insurgency-hit region on a two-day tour.

Singh will inaugurate a railway line in the southern district of Anantnag and later hold talks with top state officials, an official spokesman said.

Hardline separatists have called for a general strike against Singh's visit, which comes a day after Muslim-majority Kashmir valley closed down to protest against the start of Indian rule in the scenic region on October 27, 1947.

"The prime minister will review security and major development projects in the state," the spokesman said, adding security had been tightened for his stay in Kashmir.

In Anantnag district special commandos were deployed for Singh's inauguration of a railway line, which is an extension of a line opened by him last October.

Some roads in the state summer capital Srinagar have also been sealed off, as Singh will be holding meetings with officials in the city.

Muslim rebels opposed to Indian rule in Kashmir have tried to disrupt high-profile events in the past by staging attacks, including car bombings.

The visit comes as India has offered fresh talks to the separatists. Home Minister P Chidambaram recently said New Delhi would hold "quiet diplomacy and quiet dialogue" with all shades of politicians in Kashmir, including anti-India separatists.

The call was hailed by moderate separatists as a "step forward" but rejected by hardliners, who insist New Delhi should declare Kashmir as a disputed territory and pull out troops before the start of negotiations.

The last talks between separatists and New Delhi were held in 2006.

The region is in the grip of a 20-year insurgency against Indian rule that has so far left more than 47,000 people dead but violence has declined sharply since the start of a peace process by India and Pakistan in 2004.

The nuclear-armed rivals hold the region in part but claim it in full.