Kashmir: Republic Day under tight security

Srinagar (Jammu & Kashmir): All roads leading to historic ‘ghanta ghar’ (clock tower) in Lal Chowk and the Bakshi Stadium, main venue for Republic Day parade, remained under tight security vigil here on the eve of January 26.

Strict security arrangements were put in place in view of a flag hoisting plan by Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) here at the ‘ghanta ghar’ (clock tower) in Lal Chowk. Bomb disposal squad and sharp shooters were pressed into service. Security around vital installations was beefed up. A heavy posse of police and CRPF laid a siege around Bakshi Stadium and the clock tower.

Senior BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and Ananth Kumar were taken into custody by police from Jammu airport on January 24 to thwart their planned flag-hoisting at clock tower here on January 26. They had landed at Jammu airport to participate in BJP youth wing’s ‘Ekta Yatra’ that was flagged off in Kolkata on January 12 and was scheduled to culminate after hoisting the national flag, here.

Three BJP leaders; Chaudary Sham, Professor Gharu Ram and Jugal Kishore were arrested from Srinagar airport on January 25. They had arrived here from New Delhi. State vice president, Sofi Muhammad Yousuf and many other party workers were also arrested, here. The Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had directed civil and police authorities to ensure that law and order wasn’t disturbed in the state. Government on January 24 sealed borders with Punjab at Lakhanpur and other places to stop the ‘yatra’ from entering the state. Separatist leaders had called for a shutdown on the Republic Day.

Chairman, JKLF Mohammad Yasin Malik along with other separatists was arrested on January 26 as they tried to march towards Lal Chowk to hoist the party flag. They had gone into ‘hiding’ on January 23 as they apprehended arrest. Malik had called for a “peaceful march” to Lal Chowk on the Republic Day to give a “democratic reply” to BJP’s flag hoisting plan.

Rubbishing claims made by a female worker of BJP that she was allegedly abducted and tortured by unknown men during party’s flag hoisting programme here, police on January 28 described the act as ‘politically motivated and concocted story narrated by her for unknown reasons’.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-28 February 2011 on page no. 15

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