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PM flags off Kashmir's first train amid shutdown

By Mukhtar Ahmad In Srinagar
October 11, 2008 23:22 IST
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Even as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh flagged off the first ever train in the valley, life across Kashmir was marred by an undeclared curfew in parts of the capital city and a separatist-called shutdown on Saturday.

The first ever chugging of a train in Kashmir was witnessed, among others, by the United Progressive Alliance chairperson, Sonia Gandhi, Union minister for Railways, Lalu Prasad Yadav, state governor, N.N.Vohra and senior officers of the state and Indian Railways.

Dr. Singh flagged off the beautifully decorated first train in Kashmir at the Nowgam railway station in capital city this morning.

The separatist coordination committee comprising representatives of both groups of All Parties Hurriyat Conference, the pro-independence Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, traders and local bar association had called for a valley wide shutdown to coincide with the PM's two-day visit.

Shops, businesses, traffic, banks, educational institutions, government offices remained closed in capital city and other districts of the valley on Friday.

State authorities imposed undeclared curfew in downtown areas falling under four police stations to prevent re-eruption of violent protests in these areas as the PM was in town.

High tension gripped the downtown areas of the summer capital were two youths were killed and over 40 injured after the Friday prayers in police protestor clashes.

Shouting anti-India and pro-freedom slogans, protestors indulged in heavy stone pelting on police and paramilitary, Central Reserve Police Force at Nowhatta in downtown Srinagar immediately after the Friday prayers.

Paramilitary CRPF and police opened fire to quell violence in Nowhatta locality yesterday critically injuring four persons, two of whom succumbed to their injuries in the hospital late Friday evening.

A senior police officer said 30 others were injured in the police paramilitary baton charge and tear gassing. Authorities moved in heavy reinforcements to several localities of downtown disallowing any movement of people.

While advocating good relations with Pakistan, Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, however, reiterated that borders cannot be changed.

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Mukhtar Ahmad In Srinagar