Kashmir City Shut To Protest Indian President Visit
28 July 2006
Srinagar: Businesses and schools in Kashmir's main city shut down and streets were deserted on Friday after a hardline separatist leader called a strike to protest against the Indian president's visit to the region. Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who called the strike, said that rights violations by security forces had increased ahead of President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam's trip to the region where New Delhi has been struggling to quell a nearly 17-year insurgency. 'As supreme commander of the armed forces, the president is morally responsible for the deteriorating human rights situation in Kashmir,' Geelani said in a statement. Indian authorities deny any violations by security forces and say they investigate all reports and punish those soldiers and policemen found guilty. Geelani, who heads the hardline faction of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, Kashmir's main political separatist alliance, is backed by most militant groups fighting in the disputed state. Kalam is visiting the troubled region to attend celebrations marking the diamond jubilee of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court and to address local lawmakers. Security had been further tightened across the Himalayan region for his visit where more than 45,000 people have been killed since a separatist revolt against Indian rule broke out in 1989.