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HindustanTimes Fri,22 Aug 2014

Kashmir: shutdown, police restrictions mark R-Day

Ashiq Hussain, Hindustan Times  Srinagar, January 26, 2013
First Published: 16:54 IST(26/1/2013) | Last Updated: 17:12 IST(26/1/2013)

People in Kashmir valley remained indoors on the country’s 64th Republic day on Saturday owing to a strike called by separatists and restrictions by government in some parts of the summer capital Srinagar.

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All wireless telecommunication networks including mobile connectivity were suspended in the morning across the valley without any notice by service providers.

Authorities said that the step was taken as a precautionary measure as militants have triggered blasts in the past using mobile phones. The service was restored in the afternoon.

The main function of Republic day parade attended by the chief minister Omar Abdullah and governor Narinder Nath Vohra was held in the winter capital Jammu, where mobile services were running as usual.

In summer capital Srinagar, the Republic Day function passed off peacefully at heavily guarded Bakshi stadium where rural development minister Ali Muhammad Sagar took the salute amid an audience of around 300 people.

The minister reiterated the call of chief minister Omar Abdullah for separatists to join dialogue.

He denounced gun culture saying it has ‘only brought destruction to this place (Kashmir)’. “No issue can be solved by guns," Sagar said in his speech at the stadium which was sealed days ahead of the function. The civilian movement in the area was heavily restricted.

Hard-line separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani had called for a strike urging people to observe it as “black day”. The call was supported by all separatist leaders with United Jehad Council chief Syed Salahuddin also condoning the strike.

Across the valley shops and businesses were closed and traffic was off the roads. Thousands of police and paramilitary personnel in riot gear patrolled deserted streets. The deployment was made on Friday night which coincidentally was the coldest night of the season as temperatures dropped to as low as minus 5.8 degree Celsius. 

The security arrangements were augmented well in advance in the valley including installation of CCTV cameras and camera based sensitive mine detectors.


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