Fears of suicide attack raise tensions on R-Day eve in J&K
Extraordinary security measures were in place on Republic Day eve in Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday as the security forces feared a suicide attack in Srinagar.
Ever since armed violence started in Jammu and Kashmir, securing various venues of Republic Day flag hoisting and ceremonial parades has been a challenge for the security forces.
This year, however, vigil has been taken to new heights in Jammu and Srinagar cities where the main Republic Day parades are to be held.
State Governor N.N. Vohra will hoist the national flag at the Maulana Azad stadium in Jammu.
In Srinagar, the venue of the main function has been shifted from the Bakshi Stadium to Sher-e-Kashmir cricket stadium as renovations are being carried out at the Bakshi Stadium.
All entry points into the twin capitals of Jammu and Srinagar have been sealed and entry is permitted only after thorough frisking of travellers and checking of vehicles.
A red alert sounded by the state police said a female 'Fidayeen' terrorist has sneaked into the city.
A senior police officer has said such intelligence inputs keep coming around Republic and Independence Day.
"We have to verify such inputs, but at the same time, an input like this cannot be brushed aside", the officer admitted.
The other worrying thing is that a vehicle reportedly without a number plate had managed to enter Srinagar city during the last two days as per reports of the intelligence agencies.
These two worrisome developments have added to the tension and that is perhaps the reason why markets and roads witnessed lesser movement of shoppers, motorists and pedestrians in Srinagar city on Thursday.
"Securing this year's venue of the main parade in Srinagar has been a taxing mental and manual exercise. Since the venue is new, loopholes had to be carefully identified and plugged.
"Sher-e-Kashmir Cricket Stadium does not have a boundary wall and for this reason we had to park bullet-proof bunker vehicles almost bumper to bumper outside the stadium to create a security wall.
"Further, buildings and structures around the venue had to be identified and secured to ensure that the function passes off peacefully", a top police officer said.
Sniffer dogs, CCTV cameras, domination of sensitive installations and VVIP routes have traditionally marked the celebrations of the country's Republic Day in Kashmir.
As usual, the separatists have asked Kashmiris to observe January 26 as a black day to focus international attention on the long lingering Kashmir dispute. - IANS