The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Kashmir strike for PM visit

Srinagar, April 16: The All-Parties Hurriyat Conference has called a strike on the two days Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee will be in Kashmir.

In a statement, the separatist conglomerate asked Kashmiris to observe a complete shutdown on Friday and Saturday to “focus international attentions towards the plight of (the) people of Kashmir”. “Peace tunes, song and drama have failed to resolve the Kashmir issue,” said a spokesman after its seven-member executive met here at the Hurriyat headquarters this afternoon.

The Mufti Mohammed Sayeed government is looking forward to the visit by the Prime Minister, who, according to official sources, would announce a massive economic package for the state.

Mainstream politicians like those in the National Conference want Vajpayee to announce initiation of a dialogue with Pakistan. “We want the issue to be resolved peacefully through a dialogue with separatists and Pakistan,” says a senior leader.

In view of the visit, security has been beefed up in the capital city as also in the rest of the Valley. The cricket stadium, in the highest security zone in the city, will be the venue where Vajpayee will give his Friday speech. Last year, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi held a public meeting in the stadium. Security forces are conducting searches in localities around the stadium. Passing vehicles are also being searched by paramilitary soldiers.

Even the speed breakers leading to and from the stadium have been erased to facilitate smooth passage of VIP cars. “we are making tight security arrangements around the venue. We are deploying paramilitary and police in strength to maintain law and order,” said a police officer.

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