Curfew, mass arrests in IoK ahead of Modi’s visit

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Over 1,000 Hurriyat activists were arrested in parts of Indian-Held Kashmir and a curfew was ordered on the eve of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to valley.

In the main city, Srinagar, shops and schools remained shut, university exams were cancelled for the day and public transport was suspended as hundreds of police and paramilitary forces patrolled the streets.

Modi is scheduled to address a public rally in Srinagar on Saturday (today).

Nearly 300 activists have been arrested to prevent them from mobilizing, a police officer said.

After Modi’s rally was announced earlier in the week, police detained all top Hurriyat leaders or confined them to their homes, local media reports said.

Authorities denied permission for a counter-rally today, dubbed Million March, called by the pro-freedom groups to press their demands for self-determination and freedom from Indian rule.

Some Hurriyat leaders remained defiant, however.

“Our Million March will go ahead come what may,” Syed Ali Geelani, the senior most Hurriyat leader, who called for the counter-rally, said in a statement on Thursday.

Police rounded up top Hurriyat leaders after Syed Ali Shah Geelani called for a million people to walk to the centre of Srinagar near a stadium where Modi will address the rally.

“Our rally will be a message to India to read the writing on the wall that Kashmiris are against the Indian occupation,” said Ayaz Akbar, a spokesman for the All Parties Hurriyat Conference.

Soldiers patrolled the streets of Srinagar on Friday while police set up barriers around the city, inspecting vehicles. Cellphones will be blocked during Modi’s visit, the Indian army said.