Normal life was affected in Kashmir Valley due to strike called by separatist groups against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the state for inauguration of Chenani-Nashri tunnel, the longest in the country, on Srinagar-Jammu national highway. Most of the shops, business establishments and fuel stations were shut in Srinagar – the summer capital of the state, officials said.
However, they said, the weekly flea market, locally known as Sunday market, was open as many vendors had set up their stalls along TRC Chowk-Batamaloo axis through Lal Chowk. The officials said most of the public transport was off the roads, while private cars, cabs and auto-rickshaws were seen plying normally in many areas of the city here. Similar reports were received from other district headquarters of the Valley, they said. The officials said security forces have been deployed in strength at sensitive places across the Valley to maintain law and order.
The Prime Minister is visiting Jammu region of the state to inaugurate the longest highway tunnel (9 km) in the country, which would reduce the travel distance between Jammu and Srinagar by 31 kms and save travel time by two hours.
Asking people to observe a general strike, the separatists – chairmen of rival factions of Hurriyat Conference, Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, and JKLF chief Mohammad Yasin Malik – in a joint statement on Thursday had said “all rhetoric about development or construction of tunnels and roads are futile and will not succeed in luring us”. They said the Prime Minister was visiting the state at a time when situation was “extremely gloomy”.
“Calling or observing a shutdown does not meet the demands of the situation but there is no other option left by the authorities. We do not nourish any animosity with the Indian Prime Minister, but it is frightening and painful that instead of taking notice of genocide in the state, he is awarding and rewarding assassins,” they said. The separatists said Kashmir is a “political issue and not a problem related to governance, economic packages, incentives or a law and order”.