Indian PM Narendra Modi on maiden Kashmir visit

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PM Modi flags off the first train from KatraImage source, Press Information Bureau
Image caption,
PM Narendra Modi flagged off the first train from Katra town in Jammu

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is on his first visit to Indian-administered Kashmir amidst a protest shutdown called by separatist groups.

Mr Modi inaugurated a railway line in the Jammu region before travelling to Kashmir Valley to launch a hydro-power station and chair a security meeting.

Security is tight in the region and checkpoints have been set up to ensure the visit passes off peacefully.

Kashmir has been in the grip of an anti-India insurgency since 1989.

In recent years violence has abated from its peak in the 1990s, but the causes of the insurgency are still far from resolved.

Mr Modi arrived in Jammu on Friday morning from where he flew by a helicopter to Katra town where he flagged off a new train to Delhi.

Katra is the base camp for the Hindu pilgrimage centre of Vaishno Devi and the train will providing a direct link with Delhi.

Millions of pilgrims visit the shrine every year and railway officials say they expect the train will be popular with them.

Meanwhile, the Muslim-majority Kashmir Valley is shut down in response to calls from separatist groups to protest against Mr Modi's visit.

In the state capital, Srinagar, shops, businesses, offices, schools and banks are closed and there is little traffic on the roads in most parts of the valley.

Mr Modi will later fly to Uri town in north Kashmir to inaugurate a hydro electrical project.