Republic Day celebrated minus ministers in Kashmir

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Srinagar, Jan 26: The main Republic Day function passed off peacefully here and other parts of the Kashmir Valley on Thursday with no ministers taking part due to snowfall.

No ministers could take part in the celebrations in the valley due to closure of surface and air traffic for the last three days.

The flag hoisting ceremony and parade took place amid tight security at the Bakshi Stadium here.

Kashmir Divisional Commissioner Basheer Khan hoisted the tricolour and took salute at the stadium.

Smartly turned out contingents of police, paramilitary and school children marched inside the stadium covered with thick blanket of snow.

Senior civil, police and army officials attended the function as sharp shooters perched atop buildings around the stadium kept a tight vigil.

District magistrates hoisted the national flag and took salute at their district headquarters in the valley.

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The state level Republic Day function was, however, held in Jammu where Governor N.N. Vohra took salute at an impressive parade.

Roads leading to the Bakshi Stadium were blocked by security forces to prevent separatists from disrupting the function.

Dozens of CCTV cameras and scores of fully armed police and paramilitary troopers manned areas around the stadium and other sensitive installations here to prevent militant attacks.

Director General of Police S.P. Vaid earlier told the media that there were concrete intelligence inputs about militants planning to disrupt the Republic Day functions in Jammu and Kashmir.

Separatists have called for a protest shutdown in the valley on Thursday to attract international communities’ attention to the Kashmir issue.

No report of any untoward incident has come so far from the valley.

Authorities did not block mobile telephone services in Jammu and Kashmir during the Republic Day functions this year.

During the past many years, cell phone operations had been suspended on January 26 and August 15, for security reasons.