Large parts of Indian Kashmir closed down Saturday to protest a visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the Muslim-majority region gripped by deadly new tensions and clashes.
Shops shut and the main streets of the main city, Srinagar, were empty except for police and paramilitary patrols while authorities laid on maximum security for Modi’s one-day visit.
Authorities cut mobile Internet services in the region and imposed a curfew in parts of Srinagar.
Separatist groups opposed to Indian rule of Kashmir have called for a strike and a protest march to a city square. Main roads and the square were barricaded by razor wire to stop anyone getting in.
“We are not taking any chances. We’ll do everything to keep the militants at bay,” a top police officer told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Authorities also ordered schools, colleges and universities shut for the day apprehending student protests.
The main venue for the prime minister’s visit to Srinigar, the Dal Lake tourist attraction, was made out of bounds to the public.
Modi started the tour in Leh, a remote high altitude desert area of the disputed territory popular with trekkers.
“I thank the wonderful people of Leh for the warm welcome. I am delighted to be here,” Modi said on Twitter.
The visit came a day after eight civilians — four in India and four in Pakistan — and an Indian soldier were killed in a heavy mortar fire and gunbattle between Indian and Pakistani forces.
Modi was to go to Srinagar and the other main city of Jammu later in the day to inaugurate a hydropower project near the border with Pakistan.—AFP