Kashmir Valley on alert before I-Day
13 August 2001
Jammu: The Kashmir Valley, especially Srinagar, is literally under siege because of Pakistan’s independence day (celebrated by militants and many Kashmiris). Security has been beefed up because there have been militant attacks on Indian Independence Day and Republic Day in the past 12 years of insurgency. Steps have been taken to ensure a violence-free parade in Bakshi Stadium on 15 August. The chief minister, Dr Farooq Abdullah, and the Governor, Mr GC Saxena, will be present there. Senior officials said almost all areas around the stadium have been searched. Sniffer dogs are being used to detect any hidden explosives. Frisking of pedestrians and searching of vehicles are being done. Many preventive arrests have been made throughout the Valley. People have been staying home since Sunday, sources said, adding that attendance in schools and colleges today was thin. All shops in the prominent Lal Chowk and its surrounding areas were closed after sunset. Similar security exercises are being undertaken by the security forces in Jammu, where the fidayeen recently killed 11 people at the Jammu railway station. There have been reports that the ultras may strike on Independence Day in the Gol Market, Bus Stand, Jewel Chowk and BC Road areas of Jammu city. The people and even the security forces are understandably tense. At many places, identification parades are being held and random arrests made. Sources said more troops have been deployed in Srinagar after six rockets and anti-tank grenades were seized from a suspected militant hideout in the city. The All Parties Hurriyat Conference has called a general strike on 15 August. An APHC spokesman said those people who have no regard for the aspirations of others should not celebrate their independence. “By registering our protest on Indian Independence Day, we’ll make it clear that our struggle will continue till we achieve freedom,” the spokesman added.