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Strike hits normal life in Kashmir

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Photo/Javed Khan

Srinagar, Jan 26: Normal life was affected in Kashmir on Saturday due to a strike called by separatist groups, which asked people to observe the Republic Day as a "black day".

Shops, offices, petrol pumps and business establishments in Srinagar and major towns remained closed while public transport services were suspended.

The effect of the strike was visibly accentuated on Republic Day, when strict security arrangement were in place to maintain law and order.

The reports of shutdown were also received from major towns of the Valley. However, the Republic Day celebrations passed peacefully.

The separatists had called for observance of "black day" on January 26 to press for early resolution of the Kashmir issue.

"For past 71 years, people of J&K are demanding the right to self-determination that Indian leadership promised to them not only in the United Nations or the Indian Parliament, but was reiterated at Lal Chowk in Srinagar by none other than Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.

"However, till this day not only has that commitment not been fulfilled but those that remind them of it are rewarded with bullets and pellets are incarcerated and gagged," Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) comprising Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik had said in a statement issued earlier this week.

While Geelani is under house-arrest, Malik was detained yesterday and lodged in Kothibagh police station to prevent him from leading any protests.

Stringent measures were put in place and government forces were deployed in strength in Srinagar city, where main R-Day function was held at Sher-e-Kashmir cricket stadium instead of traditional venue, Bakshi stadium.

Barricades were erected by the forces with pedestrian and vehicle movement only allowed after thorough frisking and questioning.

The roads were mostly deserted in Srinagar city with occasional movement of private vehicles.

Mobile internet services suspended

Srinagar, Jan 26: Mobile Internet services were suspended across Kashmir on Saturday as a “precautionary measure” on the occasion of Republic Day, but mobile phone services functioned as usual.

“Mobile Internet services were snapped in the early hours as stringent security arrangements were put in place for Republic Day celebrations across Kashmir Valley,” a police official said.

He said the services were snapped as a “precautionary measure”.

However, the mobile phone services, which used to be suspended for the duration of the Republic Day ceremony here, were functioning as usual.

While suspension of mobile phone and Internet services have become a routine since 2005, there have been a few occasions when the authorities did not resort to this step as part of the security drill in Kashmir.

The security agencies added this step to the security drill after militants triggered a blast outside the Bakshi Stadium during the Independence Day parade in 2005.

The authorities have been clamping down on mobile services in times of trouble in Kashmir.

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