Conflict & Justice

Kashmir: Indian President Pranab Mukherjee lands in Srinagar for official visit


Indian President Pranab Mukherjee (L) presents an award to a student as Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah (C) looks on at the 18th convocation of Kashmir university in Srinagar on September 27, 2012.


Tauseef Mustafa

Indian President Pranab Mukherjee began a three-day visit to Kashmir, landing in Srinagar in the Indian-controlled portion of the disputed Himalayan region.

In his first visit to the troubled region since he taking office in July, Mukherjee was received in Srinagar — the so-called "summer capital" — by Governor N N Vohra, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and other top civil and army officials, Xinhua reported.

Security was tightened ahead of the visit in light of the period deadly attacks by militants opposed to the presence of Indian troops in the region since 1989.

Thousands have died in violence stoked by opponents of India's decades long rule.

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Separately, students, separatist leaders and lawyers called for a strike on Thursday to protest against alleged atrocities by the Indian armed forces, the BBC reported.  

Commenting on the high security surrounding the visit, a police official reportedly said: "Stringent security arrangements have been made to thwart any militant attack around this time in city."

Separatists in the region had also called for a daylong shutdown.

"The shutdown is to show that there is a military occupation in Indian-controlled Kashmir, against which Kashmiris are protesting," Syed Ali Geelani, a hardline separatist, said in a statement.

"By observing shutdown, we want to remind the Indian president about the promises made by Indian leaders to Kashmiris in national and international forums, which are yet to be fulfilled."

Mukherjee, meantime, told an audience at the Kashmir University that he looked upon the youth of Kashmir to forge the future of India, IANS reported.

"The India of tomorrow achieved through inclusive growth offers enormous opportunities for the youth of Kashmir," Mukherjee said at the convocation address.

"I am aware there are grievances. Many important issues need deft handing and speedy resolution.

"The government of India and the state government are determined to ensure that every Kashmiri lives with dignity having equal rights and equal opportunities."

He continued:

"This beautiful valley has nursed in its lap great men of letters, poets and patrons of learning. The IT revolution has brought infinite opportunities. It has greatly facilitated us in offering a modern, progressive and relevant education to our students. The government of India, in its 12th Five Year Plan, has a well defined strategy to achieve this. It includes expansion of infrastructure with regional equity."