‘Peace’ prevails in Kashmir on January 26

Srinagar: All Republic Day programmes in Kashmir, including the main event in Srinagar, Friday passed off peacefully amid tight security in view of intelligence reports suggesting that militants might target the functions.

No untoward incident was reported in the Valley.

“The Republic Day functions at all district headquarters passed off peacefully,” a senior police officer said.

The main official function was held at Srinagar’s Sher- e-Kashmir Cricket Stadium, where Revenue Minister Abdul Rehman Veeri presided over the event.

All roads leading to the stadium were sealed after intelligence inputs suggested the possibility that militants or other “anti-national” elements may try to disrupt the event, officials said.

Security forces had laid down a multi-layer cordon around the stadium. The stadium hosted the parade for the first time as the regular venue, Bakhshi stadium, is being renovated.

Multiple checkpoints had been set up near the stadium.

The function at the stadium was attended mostly by state government officials and a few political workers.

Invitations were not extended to the general public in view of paucity of space at the makeshift venue, officials said.

Various wings of police and school children participated in the parade. The students presented a colourful programme.

Public Works Minister Naeem Akhtar took the salute at a parade in Kulgam. Relief and Disaster Management Minister Javed Mustafa presided over a function in Shopian, while Abdul Haq Khan was the chief guest in Anantnag.

Other ministers who presided over the Republic Day parades included Sajad Gani Lone (Kupwara), Imran Ansari (Bandipora), Basharat Bukhari (Baramulla), Ghulam Nabi Lone (Budgam) and Asiea Naqash (Ganderbal).

The celebrations were under threat as intelligence inputs had suggested that a non-Kashmiri female suicide bomber might try to disrupt the parade at one of the venues, the officials had said.

Another intelligence input had suggested that a group of five Lashkar-e-Taiba militants had entered the city and could stage an attack on security forces on Republic Day, they had said.

Pertinently, normal life was affected in  Valley due to a strike called by all separatist groups, which had asked the people to observe the Republic Day as a “black day”.

Shops, offices, petrol pumps and business establishments in the city here remained closed while public transport was off the roads, the administration said.

The effect of the strike was accentuated due to a holiday and the strict security arrangements which were in place to maintain law and order, they said.

According to a official, reports of shutdown being observed were received from other major towns of the Valley also.

However, the Republic Day celebrations went off peacefully and there were no reports of any untoward incident from across the Valley.

Separatists groups had called for observance of “black day” on 26 January to press for the early resolution of Kashmir issue. PTI

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