R-Day: Srinagar Turns Into A Fortress

25 January 2015
The Hindu
Zahid Rafiq

Srinagar: A day before the Republic Day celebrations, Srinagar has turned into a fortress, with barricades and checkpoints coming up all over the city and hundreds of police and paramilitary personnel patrolling the streets. The presence of armed forces in Kashmir is increased before every Republic and Independence Day, but this time security in the sensitive State capital has been tightened further due to U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to New Delhi. In the absence of an elected government in the State, Governor N.N. Vohra will take the salute on Monday at the Maulana Azad Memorial Stadium in Jammu, which has been put under multi-tier security and made out-of-bounds for any civilian movement. The function in Srinagar will be held at the Bakshi Stadium, where a three-tier security arrangement has been put in place. Police and paramilitary forces have been deployed on all rooftops around the stadium. 'A three-tier security has been put in place,' said a senior police officer in Srinagar. 'We don't have any specific inputs on militant activities, but we don't want to take any chance especially as President Obama is here. We have witnessed incidents of violence in the past during such high-profile visits.' In 2000, when the then U.S. President Bill Clinton visited India, unidentified gunmen killed 35 Sikhs in Chittisinghpora village in south Kashmir. To ward off a similar attack, security has been stepped up across the Kashmir valley and all major roads have been barricaded. The police and paramilitary forces are checking vehicles and frisking the passengers every few kilometres. Sources in the police said the government is likely shut down the entire mobile and Internet services in the Valley from Monday early morning till the Republic day function is over.