Strike, curfew shut Kashmir as India leader visits

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 4, 2014 at 5:06 am •  Published: July 4, 2014
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SRINAGAR, India (AP) — India's newly elected leader made his first official trip on Friday to Indian-controlled Kashmir, where separatist groups called a strike that shut shops, businesses and schools.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated a railway line and planned to review security and development in the Himalayan region divided between India and Pakistan.

Kashmir is India's only Muslim-majority state and Modi — whose Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party won a landslide election victory — has long had an uneasy relationship with Muslims. He was the chief minister of western Gujarat state in 2002 when communal riots there killed more than 1,000 people, most of them Muslims.

Police said a curfew was declared in the old quarters of Srinagar, the main city in Indian-held Kashmir, and residents had been asked to stay indoors. The restrictions were imposed to prevent any violent protests by separatist groups who oppose Indian rule.

Most top separatist leaders were either put under house arrest or detained at police stations, police said. Kashmiri leaders are often detained or barred from leaving their homes during public protests.

Authorities did not allow worshippers to pray at Jamia Masjid, the main mosque in Srinagar, on the first Friday of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting. However, Friday prayers were offered in small mosques.

Police and paramilitary soldiers patrolled the mostly deserted streets and set up additional checkpoints in the already heavily guarded city.

No violence was immediately reported.