The strike was called by Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who heads a hard-line faction of All Parties Hurriyat Conference, Kashmir's main separatist alliance. It was supported by Hezb-ul Mujahedeen, Kashmir's biggest armed rebel group.
Separatist politicians and armed militants reject Indian sovereignty in Kashmir, India's only Muslim-majority state, and want to carve out a separate homeland or merge the Himalayan region into India's Islamic neighbor Pakistan.
Many local lawyers held a protest march and announced a boycott of Kalam's speech at the Jammu-Kashmir state High Court.
Activists say human rights abuses continue in Kashmir; officials say each aberration is investigated and violators punished.
Later Friday, Kalam was to also address a joint session of the state's legislature, said government spokesman Farooq Renzu.
Shops, schools and offices closed down and traffic was thin on roads in Srinagar, Indian Kashmir's summer capital. Kashmir University and other schools canceled exams scheduled for Friday and Saturday due to security concerns.
Police stepped up security in the already heavily militarized city and erected additional checkpoints on Srinagar's roads, the AP reports.
Chinese President Xi Jinping warned his new US counterpart Joe Biden not to push Europe into an alliance against Beijing