Life relaxed in Kashmir Valley ahead of R-Day



Srinagar: Life is relaxed in the Kashmir Valley with the authorities making elaborate arrangements in summer capital Srinagar and other towns ahead of Thursday's Republic Day celebrations.

Tensions in the city have been comparatively less around January 26 last year and this year. People are going about their routine businesses in Srinagar and other towns this time. In the past, markets and businesses would come to a grinding halt because of the heightened tensions around January 26.

"The decrease in the number of militant attacks last year and so far this year has had a welcome psychological effect. People are less tense as they realize the capacity of the militants to disrupt peace has been largely contained in the state", a senior intelligence officer said here. Kashmiri separatist leaders have called for a Valley-wide shutdown on January 26.

Bakshi Stadium in the city, which is the main venue of the Republic Day parade in the Valley, has been taken over by the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the state police to ensure foolproof security at the venue.

A senior police officer said here closed circuit television cameras (CCTV) have been installed at all sensitive security installations and main market places in the city to maintain a round-the-clock vigil.

Vehicles entering the city are being stopped and searched by the security forces at many places here. "Our vehicle was stopped and thoroughly searched at many places in the city today", said Muhammad Shafi, 52, a contractor.

Extra deployment of security forces has been made at crowded market places and around sensitive security installations in the city. Roads leading to Bakshi Stadium are heavily patrolled by the security forces but civilian traffic has not been disallowed on these roads so far, a practice followed here during the last 20 years.

A full dress rehearsal of the parade was held inside the stadium Tuesday at which Kashmir Divisional Commissioner Asghar Hassan Samoon took the salute.

Speaking to the media later, he said: "We have made all the arrangements for the smooth conduct of the official functions."

Inspector General of Police (Kashmir Zone) SM Sahai said after the rehearsal: "Our only concern is that the weather should remain favourble. There is no other problem. We have no inputs about any likely militancy-related incident being planned around the Republic Day in the Valley."

Separatist guerrillas have in the past tried to attack the official parades during the Republic Day celebrations in Kashmir.

IANS