SRINAGAR: A complete shutdown was observed on Wednesday in entire Kashmir Valley, while official functions were held within garrisoned venues to celebrate 72nd I-Day.
Pakistan cricket star Shahid Afridi on Wednesday wished India on her Independence Day. He said he hoped that from this year onwards both India and Pakistan will work to resolve issues for peace in the region and India-Pak cricket matches would be held.
All streets in Kashmir Valley wore a deserted look as markets, business establishments, government and private offices lay closed. Traffic was off the roads and train services had also been suspended for the day. The Amarnath Yatra, suspended since August 13 due to inclement weather, continued to remain suspended.
Kashmir Valley has been observing India’s Independence Day and Republic Day as ‘black days’ since the 1990s, when anti-India insurgency erupted in the Valley. The Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) of Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik has been issuing calls for shutdown on these ‘black days’ since the united leadership front was formed in 2016.
Police arrested JKLF chairman Yasin Malik and its senior leaders Showkat Bakhshi and Bashir Kashmiri to prevent them from leading any protest. Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and Syed Ali Geelani were put under house arrest.
Government forces blocked all entry and exit points until the main official function at SK Stadium was over. Electronic access control equipment, drones, CCTV cameras, and sniffer dogs had been deployed at strategic locations to monitor the function.
Phone and mobile internet services were suspended till the afternoon, a common practice adopted by the government. However, on the Republic Day in 2015, the government had not suspended phone services.
Former chief ministers Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah attended the event at SK stadium. Mehbooba sat in the front row beside Omar Abdullah.
Meanwhile, parents of army soldier Aurangzeb, who was killed by militants in south Kashmir and who has been nominated posthumously for the Shaurya Chakra award, hoisted the Indian tricolour at a function in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, on the occasion of India’s Independence Day.