SRINAGAR: For the 26th consecutive year, Kashmir remained shut on India’s Independence Day.
Curfew-like situation prevailed in the entire Valley like in the past quarter of a century. In response to a strike call by the resistance camp, shops and businesses remained closed. Except for a miniscule number of private vehicles and vehicles of government forces, all forms of transport remained off roads.
The security build-up over the past few days peaked on Saturday in the Valley, where ministers and bureaucrats salute the Tricolour at garrisoned locations.
Thousands of policemen and paramilitary soldiers patrolled deserted streets and restricted movement of people at various places, especially in the old city and on the routes leading to Bakshi Stadium, where the main celebratory function— marked by parade of government forces and entertainment programmes—of the day was organised.
Like previous years, public and private sector telecom companies suspended phone and Internet services till 12pm, when most of the government functions had been
completed. These services are disrupted apparently to stop people from posting anti-India messages on social networking sites and to thwart militant attacks.
The authorities had allowed uninterrupted mobile services on the Republic Day this year.
A complete protest strike marks India’s Independence Day and Republic Day in the Valley every year.
In Palhalan area of Baramulla district, scores of youths demonstrated against “Indian occupation of Kashmir” and shouted pro-freedom and pro-Pakistan slogans in the afternoon.
While marching towards the local bus stand, police and paramilitary troopers chased them away. However, the protesters assembled again and pelted the government forces with stones. The police fired teargas at the protesters. Clashes continued till late evening.