India’s prime minster Narendra Modi is in occupied Kashmir for a daylong visit on Sunday to review development work as Kashmiris fighting Indian rule called for a shutdown in the Himalayan region, report agencies.
Shops and businesses were shut while thousands of armed Indian forces and commandos in flak jackets spread out across the area and closed off roads with coiled razor wire and iron barricades to prevent protests and attacks during Modi’s visit.
Traffic was sparse, with buses staying off the roads and few cars venturing out in Srinagar, the main city and the center of urban dissent against Indian occupation, where Modi is expected later on Sunday. He will also address a public rally in a Hindu-dominated area in Jammu.
Authorities detained dozens of activists overnight and put Kashmiri leaders under house arrest to stop them from staging any protest in Srinagar. They also shut internet on mobile phones and suspended train services in the Kashmir Valley, a common tactic to make organising protests difficult and discourage dissemination of protest videos.
Modi arrived in the remote mountainous Ladakh region bordering China and Pakistan on Sunday morning, where he inaugurated a university.
Three Kashmiri leaders, known as the Joint Resistance Leadership, called for the strike to protest Modi’s visit.
‘A person who in his pursuit to crush Kashmiri resistance ordered killings and damaging properties, hurting Kashmiri economy and other oppressive measures deserves only a protest from those he has oppressed,’ the leaders said in a statement.
Anti-India sentiment runs deep in Kashmir, which in recent years has seen renewed attacks and repeated public protests. Nearly 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown.
Kashmiris have been fighting Indian rule since 1989, demanding that the Indian-occupied areas be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country.