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Protests arise as Modi visits Kashmir

A shutdown protest was declared in Kashmir, during a one-day visit to the region by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was there to inaugurate a hydropower project.

Separatists within Kashmir called for the protest in response to Mr Modi’s visit. Authorities closed schools, colleges and universities for the day in case of student protests. The main venue for his visit to Srinagar, the Dal Lake tourist attraction, was made out of bounds to the public.

A day before his visit, at least nine people including an Indian soldier, were killed across the Kashmir’s border due to firing by each Indian and Pakistani security forces. More than 130 people have been killed this year in violence in the Kashmir valley.

Modi responded in the speech stating: “Every stone, every weapon picked up by misguided youths destabilises their own Jammu-Kashmir”. Modi insists that the solution to the Kashmir conflict lies in economic development stating: “Every issue, every problem has one solution: development, development and development”.

During his visit he inaugurated the 330-megawatt Kishanganga hydropower project in Gurez and the 14-kilometre Zojila tunnel between Srinagar, Kargil and Leh cities. The government has said that the tunnel would be the longest Asia’s longest bi-directional tunnel.

The hydropower project began in 2009 and has bolstered tensions with Pakistan, whose foreign minister said in a statement on Friday that it "believes that the inauguration of the project without the resolution of the dispute is tantamount to violation of the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT)”.

The Indus Water Treaty, brokered by the World Bank, was signed in 1960 and obligated both sides to share the vast water resources from the Indus River system. India has rejected these claims and stated that the project uses the river's flow and elevation to generate electricity rather than large reservoirs, and hence do not contravene the treaty.