Peaceful R-Day in Kashmir, separatists invited for talks (Lead)

January 26th, 2010 - 2:58 pm ICT by IANS  

Srinagar/Jammu, Jan 26 (IANS) Smartly dressed school children joined police and paramilitary contingents to take part in colourful parades marking India’s 61st Republic Day in Jammu and Kashmir amid peaceful celebrations under a thick security cover.
The morning passed off peacefully as there were no reports of any incident in the terror-riven state where violence has marked Republic Days in the past.

The main celebration in the state was held in the winter capital Jammu which looked like a curfew-bound city, with few people on the roads that were dotted by security personnel.

Army and paramilitary forces guarded the Jammu stadium where the main function was organised. The security cover was relaxed later and people were seen hoisting tricolours in their neighbourhoods.

In the Kashmir Valley, the main parade was held at Srinagar’s Bakshi stadium which had been taken over by police and paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) three days ahead of the ceremony.

Electronic jamming equipment had been installed around the parade venues to thwart separatist guerrillas’ possible attempts of detonating remote controlled explosive devices.

Mobile phones also stopped working because of the jamming equipment.

Roads to the parade venues had been barricaded using coils of razor fitted concertina wire.

Governor N.N. Vohra unfurled the tricolour at Maulana Azad Memorial stadium in Jammu and asked separatist leaders to “settle problems through dialogue”.

He suggested they should “seriously reflect on the untold losses suffered by the people in the past years and recognise the futility of continuing on the path of confrontation”.

All those who hold contrary beliefs should come forward to participate in a meaningful dialogue, he said.

The governor said the three regions of the state comprise one organic whole and the surest path to grow and prosper would be for each of the three regions to develop and prosper in complete harmony with each other.

In Srinagar, contingents of police, CRPF, Border Security Force (BSF) and school children marched past the podium where state Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather unfurled the national flag and took the salute.

Rather had the same message for separatists as he said the prosperity of the state was linked to peace and the path of dialogue. “Reconciliation is the only way to achieve the peaceful resolution of issues,” he said.

Republic Day parades and cultural programmes were also held at other district headquarters of the state.

Peace prevailed amid a separatist sponsored shutdown though intelligence reports had suggested possible guerrilla strikes around the Republic Day.

Markets remained closed and public transport was off the roads across the valley.

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