The government and the separatist politician-terrorist combine have virtually locked horns on the eve of Republic Day with the latter calling for a general shutdown on January 26. The authorities, however, appear all geared up to meet any eventuality by making elaborate security arrangements to frustrate any bid to disrupt the RD celebrations.
The frisking and search operations have been intensified all across Srinagar. The civil lines area in the uptown is the main centre of activity of the police and CRPF, who have fanned out to thwart any attempt by terrorists to disrupt the Republic Day function.
The Bakshi Stadium, venue of the main Republic Day function, has been sealed and the civilian movement around the stadium has been strictly restricted. Police and CRPF have raised special check-points on almost all roads leading to the stadium. At several places near Zero Bridge, Ram Bagh, Barzullah, Chanpora and Iqbal Park, police and CRPF jawans were seen searching passenger and private vehicles and frisking the commuters.
The civilian localities around the Bakhshi Stadium including Solina, Aloochi Bagh, Magharmal Bagh, Sarai Bala, Lal Mandi, Wazir Bagh, Jawahar Nagar and Ram Bagh have been sanitised by conducting regular and surprise search operations. The authorities have closed a cooking gas delivery depot temporarily near the stadium as a part of security measure. Sources say that close circuit TV cameras have been installed at vital places and busy crossings.
"We don't want to leave anything to chance", said a police officer, "and have done adequate security arrangements for the smooth conduct of the Republic day function".
The security has been beefed up in other parts of the valley as well.
The Republic Day has turned out to be a showdown exercise between separatists and the government since the eruption of terrorism in Kashmir in early 90. It is a routine with the separatist terrorists and politicians to call shutdown on the day. Terrorists, on many occasions in the past, attempted to disrupt the official functions by firing grenades on the stadium.
What has come as a major surprise for the authorities this time is the strike call by the moderate faction of the Hurriyat faction led by Mirwaiz Ummer Farooq. Mirwaiz is currently on Pakistan visit. On Sunday, he called for cessation of all hostilities by terrorists in Kashmir. However, his outfit on Monday came out with a statement urging people to boycott the Republic Day and observe it as "black day".
Syed Ali Geelani, chief of hard-line faction of the Hurriyat Conference and Democratic Freedom Party (DFP) chief Shabir Ahmad Shah have also called for shutdown on Republic Day. The call has the support of all terrorist groups including Hizbul Mujahideen, which has heightened the tension all across the valley.