SRINAGAR: A complete shutdown, suspension of internet and cellular networks and heightened troop movement marked India’s republic day in Kashmir.
Since early morning, majority of the roads leading to the summer capital were sealed with barricades. Thousands of police and CRPF soldiers, wearing riot gear and carrying automatic weapons, were deployed in Srinagar.
In view of the change in venue from Bakshi Stadium to Sher-e-Kashmir Cricket Stadium, Sonawar, the authorities made intense security arrangements, throwing a three-tier security ring to guard the venue.
At many places in Srinagar, the government forces erected barricades and laid concertina wire to stop vehicular and pedestrian movement. The checkpoints and barricades were established a week ago to ensure no untoward incident happened on January 26.
As part of the security measures, the government also suspended mobile services and the Internet in Kashmir. The suspension continued well into the late afternoon till the people finished the Friday prayers. Taking a break from the routine, the authorities suspended mobile internet in the Valley a day ahead of the R-Day.
The streets wore a completely deserted look with no traffic or public movement spotted on the roads of Srinagar. Shops and business establishments remained closed while the authorities closed tuition centres a week ago.
Similar reports were received from across Kashmir where complete shutdown and strike was observed in ten major district headquarters and towns of Kashmir in view of January 26.
While terming January 26 as a black day, the Joint Resistance Leadership comprising Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik also called for peaceful protests against the civilian killings, after Friday prayers.
In Old Srinagar, the government deployed hundreds of CRPF and police personnel to thwart any protests or clashes after Friday prayers.
The authorities did not allow prayers at Jamia Masjid, drawing flak from Hurriyat chairman and chief cleric Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.
He lashed out at the government in a tweet; “Once again no prayers allowed in barricaded and garrisoned downtown including at the #JamaMasjid , while all channels of communication remain blocked and leadership put under forced detention by the ‘republican state’”.
Meanwhile, there were no reports of any untoward incident during the day.