Amid heightened security measures, Republic Day celebrations passed off peacefully in Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday.
The main flag hoisting and parade were held at Jammu's Maulana Azad Stadium. Governor NN Vohra hoisted the national flag and took the salute at the parade in which contingents of army, paramilitary forces, police and schoolchildren took part.
Vohra said there had been several ceasefire violations on the Line of Control (LoC) and the international border with Pakistan in the past year. "These violations must stop so that people are able to live in peace and the process of development is carried on without hindrance," he said. He said ceasefire breaches had derailed the lives of thousands living close to the border. Vohra appealed to the people to vote in large numbers in the forthcoming Lok Sabha and assembly elections - a la the Panchayat polls.
The Republic Day parade in Srinagar was held at Bakshi Stadium, with rural development minister Ali Muhammad Sagar hoisting the national flag. He also took the salute at an impressive parade in which contingents of army, police and paramilitary forces marched past the podium. "Our government has made it clear since day one that gun and violence have not solved any problem in the past, nor will they in the future," the minister said. "If we look at our neighbouring country and beyond, we find the vast destruction violence has brought," he said, without naming Pakistan.
"Our neighbouring country is also witnessing the perils and dangers of violence. All problems, however complex they might be, have finally to be resolved through negotiations," Sagar said in his speech at the stadium. Security had been mounted throughout Srinagar, where private and public transport remained suspended because of a separatist-called shutdown. Parades and flag-hoisting ceremonies were also held peacefully in other district towns of Jammu region and also the Kashmir Valley.