The Kashmir Valley observed a total shutdown on Saturday after a call by Hurriyat Conference to protest against the new land laws notified by the Centre for the Union Territory, reported PTI.

On October 27, the Ministry of Home Affairs had notified new land laws for Jammu and Kashmir. The amended laws allow any Indian citizen to buy land in the region, sparking fears among locals as it was earlier meant only for permanent residents under Article 370 of the Constitution. The Centre’s notification stated that the term “being permanent resident of the state” as a criteria has been “omitted”.

Shops, petrol pumps, and other businesses were shut in Srinagar, an unidentified official said. Public transport also largely remained off the roads, but private cars and auto-rickshaws were plying in certain areas.

Security personnel were stationed in large numbers in vulnerable areas of Srinagar and across the Valley. A shutdown was observed in north Kashmir’s Sopore, Kupwara, Handwara, Bandipore, and other areas, reported The Indian Express. In south Kashmir, Anantnag, Pulwama, Kulgam, and Pampore were among the areas that were observing shutdown.

On Wednesday, the Hurriyat had issued a call for the shutdown. It said that the laws are being amended and “thrust upon” the people of Jammu and Kashmir one after the other.

“Rather than pursue a peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir issue involving millions of humans living in the uncertainty of a conflict as per their will and to ensure peace in the region, all attempts are being made to undermine that possibility by the Government of India and instead, a policy of permanent demographic change is aggressively being pushed – to snatch our land, destroy our identity and turn us into a minority in our own land,” the Hurriyat Conference said in a statement.

It added that the people of Jammu and Kashmir completely reject and strongly criticise the “appalling imperial measures”.

Several amendments to land laws for the Union Territory has also sparked Opposition criticism about a steady erosion of the rights of Kashmiri people since the special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 and Article 35A was revoked last year.

National Conference leader and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Thursday criticised the Centre for not allowing political parties in the region to stage protests against the new land laws. Abdullah asked the Centre if it wanted the political parties in Kashmir to quit mainstream politics.

Peoples Democratic Party members were detained on Thursday for their rally against the land laws.