Kashmir on high alert ahead of Republic Day

Monday, January 24, 2011

SRINAGAR - High alert was sounded throughout Jammu and Kashmir Monday to prevent any untoward incident ahead of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) planned hoisting of the national flag here on Republic Day Jan 26, which the separatists have vowed to oppose.

The border between the state and Punjab has been sealed to prevent BJP activists entering the state in connection with their proposed flag hoisting march, a senior police officer said here.

Despite Chief Minister Omar Abdullah requesting that nothing should be done to vitiate the law and order situation here, the BJP’s youth wing Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha has announced that it would go ahead with their Tiranga Yatra and unfurl the national flag in city centre Lal Chowk Jan 26.

To counter the BJP march, pro-azadi Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) also announced a march to Lal Chowk on Republic Day.

In order to hold hassle-free Republic Day functions across the state, it has been decided that nobody would be allowed to disrupt the peaceful atmosphere here, a senior intelligence officer said here.

Barricades have been erected around the Bakshi Stadium in Srinagar, the venue of the main Republic Day parade in the Valley.

All high-rise buildings around the stadium have been sanitised to ensure that the separatist guerrillas are prevented from carrying out any attacks.

All vehicles entering Srinagar, both from the northern and southern districts, are being thoroughly checked.

In addition to heavy deployment of police and paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel, security is also being monitored through closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras which have been installed at major traffic crossings and around sensitive security installations.

Police columns with armoured vehicles were Monday moving around and all incoming buses being checked at Lakhanpur, the gateway to the state, situated on the border with Punjab.

However, commuters have been complaining of inconvenience because of the heightened security drill in the summer capital Srinagar.

It took us three hours to complete a journey that would otherwise take one hour because of the security checkings at different places, said Abdul Majid, 35, a resident of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district who works in a government office in Srinagar city.

Police here said the security drill was part of their usual preparations to ensure peace in the Valley.

The objective of the security arrangements is to ensure the safety of the people and this has been our usual practice for the last 20 years.

There is nothing new in our arrangements this year, Senior Superintendent of Police (Srinagar) Ashiq Hussain Bukhari said.

Vigil is especially being maintained around city centre Lal Chowk.

Six BJP activists were arrested by the police Saturday when they attempted to paste some posters in and around Lal Chowk.

Meanwhile, a full dress rehearsal was held in the Bakshi Stadium Monday amid tight security.

Smartly dressed police and paramilitary personnel, accompanied by school children, took part in the rehearsal which passed off peacefully.

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