Indian Kashmir came to a virtual standstill Saturday as separatist groups called for a shutdown to protest a visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the Muslim-majority region gripped by deadly new tensions and clashes with rival Pakistan.
Shops shut and streets in the main city, Srinagar, were empty except for police and paramilitary patrols as authorities imposed maximum security for Modi's one-day visit.
Authorities cut mobile internet services in the region and ordered a curfew in parts of Srinagar.
Separatist groups opposed to Indian rule of Kashmir called for a strike and a protest march to a city square. Main roads leading to the square were barricaded by razor wire to stop anyone getting in.
"We are not taking any chances. We'll do everything to keep the militants at bay," a top police officer told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Authorities closed schools, colleges and universities for the day in case of student protests. The main venue for Modi's visit to Srinagar, the Dal Lake tourist attraction, was made out of bounds to the public.
Modi started the tour in Leh, a remote high-altitude desert area popular with trekkers, where he inspected work on a 14 kilometer (nine mile) long tunnel connecting the Kashmir valley with the Ladakh region that is cut off in winter.
"I thank the wonderful people of Leh for the warm welcome. I am delighted to be here," Modi said on Twitter.
He went on to inaugurate the 330 megawatt Kishanganga hydropower project in Gurez. The power station is near the de facto border with Pakistan, which says the project violates the 1960 Indus Water Treaty on sharing waters from the Himalayas.
The World Bank organised two rounds of talks between the rivals on Kishanganga without resolving their differences.
"This intransigence on part of India clearly threatens the sanctity of the treaty," the Pakistan foreign ministry said in a statement Friday.
- Power dispute -
Modi was to go on to Jammu, in the Hindu-dominated part of Kashmir, before returning to New Delhi.
The visit came a day after eight civilians -- four in India and four in Pakistan -- and an Indian soldier were killed in heavy mortar fire and a gunbattle between Indian and Pakistani forces.
There are regular battles on the frontier that divides Kashmir, which is claimed in full by both neighbours.
India has ordered its estimated 500,000 troops in Kashmir to suspend military operations against rebels during the Ramadan holy month that started this week.
But on top of the border clash, fighting with militants has not halted.
Late Friday, Indian troops killed three suspected militants close to the heavily militarised border in the northwest of the territory, media reports said.
Army officers, who were not named, were quoted as saying the militants attacked a patrol in a forest sparking a firefight.
The incident could not be independently verified. But a police officer said the body of another suspected militant was found near the site of the fighting.
Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since the end of British rule in 1947. Rebel groups have since 1989 been fighting for an independent Kashmir or a merger with Pakistan.
Tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, have died in the fighting.