Republic Day peaceful in Kashmir; separatist, BJP marches foiled (Second Lead)

January 26th, 2011 - 6:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Srinagar, Jan 26 (IANS) Authorities clamped down on secessionist leaders and some Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) activists Wednesday when they separately tried to take out marches to Lal Chowk here in defiance of security restrictions on the Republic Day, which passed off peacefully.Police rounded Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front’s (JKLF) Yasin Malik, moderate Hurriyat Conference leaders Bilal Lone and Shahidul Islam and a dozen of their supporters from Maisuma locality when they came out of a lane on their way to Lal Chowk.

Lal Chowk is the main business centre of the city, where the BJP planned to unfurl the national flag.

“Malik, Lone, Shahidul Islam and 13 of their supporters have been lodged in Kothibagh police station here,” a police officer said.

Their detentions came after about 10 BJP activists were also held by police to foil their proposed flag hoisting march at the city square.

The JKLF had announced a counter-march to Lal Chowk after the BJP’s much-hyped rally to Lal Chowk, the same place where the party’s then president Murli Manohar Joshi had unfurled the national flag in 1992 amid tight security when the armed separatist campaign was at its peak.

The government had mounted security in and around Lal Chowk to scuttle the marches.

Curfew-like restrictions were imposed in the city, partly because of militant threats who in over 20 years of insurgency have tried to disrupt Republic Day ceremonies by triggering bombs.

But the day passed peacefully as mobile phone connectivity across the valley was suspended till afternoon as a security precaution.

Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather unfurled the tricolour and took salute at the Bakshi Stadium.

Smartly turned out contingents of police, paramilitary troopers, civil defence and school children marched past in the stadium, around which authorities had thrown a three-tier security grid.

All roads leading to the venue were sealed and entry was strictly regulated through special passes.

Cultural programmes were also held at the stadium, highlighting the cultural diversity of the state.

The minister invited separatists to be part of the dialogue process initiated by the central government after months of unrest and deadly protests in which 112 civilians were killed last summer.

“Dialogue and negotiations are the only way out of the present problem, and we appeal to everyone to come forward and join the dialogue process,” the minister said.

He highlighted the achievements of the Omar Abdullah-led National Conference-Congress government, which completed two years in office early this month.

Impressive parades were also held in all the districts, with senior ministers unfurling the tricolour.

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