Kashmir Valley was shut on Monday as people largely obeyed a call from separatist outfits to observe India’s Independence Day as a “black day”.
Cities and towns across the Valley wore deserted look. However, the security was very tight with a three-tier security umbrella put in place at and around the venues where official functions were held to celebrate I-Day. Thousands of police and paramilitary personnel besides columns of the Army patrolled the streets or vulnerable locations.
Mobile phones felt silent early in the morning as service providers switched off the facility following instructions from the security agencies. The cellphones have been used in the past by the Muslim militants to trigger remote controlled bombs and improvised explosives devices to stoke trouble. The services were restored in the afternoon. The Internet services also remained disrupted for some time. There have been no reports of any major incident of violence. However, small groups of youth took to the streets in a Srinagar suburb and north Valley town of Bandipore chanting pro-freedom slogans. The CRPF and the local police quickly came in their way and the two sides clashed briefly.
At Srinagar’s Bakshi Stadium, where the main function was held and chief minister Omar Abdullah unfurled the tricolour, a three-tier security arrangement was in place. Sniffer dogs were used and for the first time CCTVs had been installed besides high-tech access control equipment and human surveillance was in action. The roads and side-streets opening into the area had been barricaded by the CRPF a night before by placing razor-edged wires and “bunker vehicles” on them.
The clock tower at historic Lal Chowk was put out of limits for general public as there were apprehensions that BJP activists might try to hoist national flag as they were prevented to do so on January 26 this year. Reports from Jammu said that police detained over 25 activists of Bhartiya Janta Yuva Morcha who were on way to Srinagar from the winter capital.
They were at Kud along the Jammu-Srinagar highway and about 215-km from Srinagar on Sunday evening but soon were allowed to return to Udhampur, a town outside Jammu. Asian Age