Heightened security, curfew-like restrictions and a shutdown call by separatists brought life to a standstill in the Kashmir Valley as Narendra Modi arrived here on his maiden visit as Prime Minister.
Most separatist groups, which include hardline Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Geelani, moderate Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and JKLF chief Yasin Malik, had asked people to observe shutdown to bring attention of the visiting Prime Minister to the “unresolved Kashmir issue”.
Most shops, offices, commercial hubs, district markets and petrol pumps remained closed in response. To keep protesters and militants at bay, the authorities sealed a large part of Srinagar city. Without announcing curfew formally, residents alleged they were not allowed to move on the roads. Security forces had sealed main roads with armed vehicles and erected concertina wires in all areas known for protests and house separatist supporters.
All heads of separatist groups, including Malik, Geelani, Farooq and Shabir Shah, were placed under house arrest since the morning. Farooq accused the authorities of “interfering with religious rights of people in the holy month of Ramzan”.
The police foiled an attempt to organise a demonstration in south Kashmir’s Anantnag town.
Prime Minister Modi arrived in Srinagar around noon after inaugurating the 25-km Katra-Udhampur railway line in Jammu. He also inaugurated a 240-MW power project in north Kashmir’s Uri.
Though the day passed off peacefully, militants did attack a police establishment in Shopian when they opened fire on Thursday. No one was injured.
Militant groups have also issued fiery statements on the visit. United Jehad Council chief Syed Salahuddin in a statement warned the visiting PM against announcing citizenship for the 1947 West Pakistan refugees and opposed the move to create separate satellite townships for Kashmiri Pandits.