Shutdown, restrictions in valley on PM Modi's maiden visit

  • Peerzada Ashiq, Hindustan Times, Srinagar
  • Updated: Jul 04, 2014 22:49 IST

Heightened security, curfew-like restrictions and 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 the shutdown call. Not many vehicles plied on the streets.

To keep protesters and militants at bay, the authorities sealed a large part of Srinagar city. The routes of Srinagar Airport, Shiv Pora and Sonawar where the VIP movement was scheduled were out of bounds for civilians.

Five police stations in the old city witnessed a virtual curfew. Without announcing curfew formally, residents alleged they were not allowed to move out or drive 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.

Moderate Hurriyat leader Farooq accused the authorities of "interfering with religious rights of people in the holy month of Ramzan".

"It is unfortunate that devotees were not allowed to pray in Jama Masjid. I was not allowed to perform my religious duty on the first Friday of Ramzan. This tactics exposes the government before the whole world," said the Mirwaiz, also head priest of the valley who leads prayers on Friday at Srinagar's historic Jama Masjid.

Meanwhile, police foiled an attempt to organise a demonstration in south Kashmir's Anantnag town. After Friday prayers, people tried to march toward the town's centre but were dispersed by the police. JKLF supporters also unfurled flags and put up placards in Srinagar's Maisuma area.

Prime Minister Modi arrived in Srinagar around Noon after inaugurating the 25-km Katra-Udhampur railway line in Jammu in the morning. He inaugurated a 240-MW power project in north Kashmir's Uri near the Line of Control in the afternoon.

Though the day passed off peacefully, militants did attack a police establishment in south Kashmir's Shopian district when they opened fire at them at around 10.30pm on Thursday. However, no one was injured in the attack.

Militant groups have also issued fiery statements on Modi's visit to the state. United Jehad Council chief Syed Salahuddin in a statement warned the visiting prime minister against announcing citizenship for the 1947 West Pakistan refugees and opposed the move to create separate satellite townships for Kashmiri Pandits.

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