R-Day Passes Off Peacefully in Kashmir

KO Photo By Abid Bhat

Shops remain shut; authorities snap mobile internet for 7 Hrs; Social activists unfurl tri-colour atop Clock Tower Sgr; Omar mocks at pulling down national flag within few hours, terms it ‘unconstitutional’

Srinagar- The 73rd Republic Day passed off peacefully across Jammu and Kashmir amid heightened security measures and drone surveillance as no untoward incident was reported from any part of Valley.

Armed police and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel dotted the nook and corner of the city to ensure that the day passed off peacefully.

Main Republic day function in Srinagar was held at Sher-e-Kashmir Stadium where Advisor to LG, RR Bhatnagar took salute at the parade and unfurled the tri-colour.

Witnesses said that shops remained shut in Srinagar and elsewhere in Kashmir and a thin traffic movement was seen on the roads. Public remained almost off the roads while the private vehicles were seen plying normally.

Authorities snapped the mobile internet services on all platforms for seven hours—7 am to 2 pm.

A group of political activists surfaced at Lal Chowk, Srinagar under heavy security and unfurled tri-colour atop Clock Tower (Ghanta Ghar) . The activist used a hydraulic crane to install the tricolour on top of the tower amid a rendition of the National Anthem.

This was the first time since 1992 when BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi along with now prime minister Narendra Modi had unfurled tri-colour at Lal Chowk.

However a controversy erupted after the national flag was removed from atop the Clock Tower soon afterwards. National Conference leader and former J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah tweeted the pictures of the Clock Tower without Tricolour and accused the organisers of insulting the national flag.

Omar Abdullah questioned why the flag did not remain there for even a day. He also alleged that the unfurling was just for a 'photo op'.

Taking to the microblogging site, Twitter, Omar Abdullah said, "Tricolour disappears in less than a couple of hours. It didn’t even remain there for the day. Why insult the National Flag of India just for a photo op? Is this what patriotism & nationalism has come to? Photo ops & trolling?"

Pertinently, the Republic Day functions were organised in all the districts across Jammu and Kashmir. Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha presided over the main function in Jammu.

The Republic Day parade consisted of smart contingents from Army, BSF, CRPF, SSB, IRP (Women & Male), J&K Police, JKAP, UT Disaster Response Force, J&K Fire, and Emergency Services, J&K Forest Protection Force, Excise Department, Ex-Servicemen, NCC Boys and Girls, Bharat Scouts and Guides (Girls & Boys), besides several school contingents, Brass & Pipe Bands of Army, BSF, J&K Police, J&K Armed Police.

Moreover, District Development Council (DDC) chairpersons presided over the main functions in their respective districts while as the Block Development Council chairpersons and presidents of Municipal bodies took salute in separate functions held at the concerned Sub-Divisional and Municipal headquarters. Police said that all the R-Day functions passed off peacefully in Kashmir and there was no untoward incident anywhere.

Mobile Internet Services Snapped

Internet services on mobile devices were suspended in Kashmir on Wednesday as a precautionary measure for ensuring smooth passage of Republic Day functions in the Valley, officials said.

However, mobile phone services and internet on fixed lines remained unaffected.

"The mobile internet telephone services have been temporarily suspended in the valley for ensuring peaceful Republic Day celebrations," the officials said.

Suspension of mobile phone and internet services on Republic Day and Independence Day have been part of the security drill in the Valley since 2005 when terrorists used a mobile phone to trigger an IED blast near the venue of Independence Day celebrations.

The services are usually restored in the afternoon following culmination of official functions across the Valley.

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