Kashmir R-Day peaceful, but strike hits valley
26 January 2007
Indo-Asian News Service
New Delhi: Srinagar, Jan 26 (IANS) Tight security arrangements ensured a peaceful Republic Day in Jammu and Kashmir Friday but a strike called by militants crippled normal life in the valley. Celebrations in winter capital Jammu, however, saw a huge gathering, including women and children.In summer capital Srinagar, the Republic Day function was held at Bakshi Stadium where Agriculture Minister Abdul Aziz Zargar unfurled the tri-colour and took salute.Zargar appealed to militants to shun the path of violence and join the ongoing dialogue process in the state. 'Our government initiated the dialogue process in the state and we will continue it,' he told the gathering at Bakshi stadium. A three-tier security arrangement was in place. Hundreds of paramilitary and police troops took up position around the stadium, blocking all roads and lanes leading to the stadium.Entry to the stadium was strictly regulated through passes, metal detector doorframes and thorough physical frisking.'All Republic Day related functions in Kashmir passed off peacefully,' said a senior police officer. 'We had made elaborate security arrangements in the entire valley.'A general strike called by separatists, however, severely affected normal life in Kashmir Friday, a national holiday. Traffic was completely off the roads and capital Srinagar wore a deserted look.Reports from other towns said the strike was complete. Inter-district transport also remained suspended.In Jammu, Governor Lt Gen (Retd.) S.K. Sinha, who unfurled the tri-colour at the MAM Stadium, lauded the role of security forces in bringing down terrorism considerably that has wracked the state for over 17 years.The spirited attendance was remarkable in a sense because many still carry the gory memories of the serial blasts on Republic Day in the same stadium in 1995. Nine people were killed and more than 100 wounded.Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad complimented state police chief Gopal Sharma for ensuring an incident-free Republic day in Jammu and Kashmir.