Normal life came to a grinding halt in Kashmir on Friday on the occasion of January 26 due to complete shutdown and curfew-like situation across Valley.
Heavy deployment of forces was put in place at different locations across Valley while the main venue in Srinagar—Sher-e-Kashmir cricket stadium— was put under a thick blanket of security to ensure incident-free function.
Multiple layers of security mainly comprising police and CRPF were deployed in an around the Jan 26 venues while heavy contingents including sharp shooters were also deployed at Sulaiman and Shankar Acharaya hills.
PDP minister, Abdul Rehman Veeri, who was the chief guest at January function in Srinagar, unfurled the tri-color and took the salute at the march past. Witnesses said that at least seven checkpoints were established from the main gate of SK cricket stadium to the venue where the salute was taken by the Minister.
The roads leading to stadium were completely sealed and heavy forces stood guard along the road stretch from Ram Munshi Bagh to Zero bridge and there was also a deployment of bullet-proof vehicles along the road.
Fire tenders and ambulance services were put in place as a necessary measure to deal with any eventuality, officials said. Witnesses said that a few government and private school children from Srinagar participated in the Jan 26 function.
They said that barricades were also placed to prevent public assembly. The 26 January function was held for the first time at SK cricket stadium owing to ongoing renovation work at Bakhshi stadium.
In summer capital Srinagar, there was a curfew like situation as major roads and streets wore a deserted look with people largely preferring to stay indoors.
Witnesses said that a contingent of police was also deployed while as routine a CRPF bullet-proof vehicle was stationed at historic Lal Chowk in Srinagar. They said few persons appeared early morning at the scene and tried to hoist tri-colour at the clock tower, however, police swung into action and prevented them from this at Valley’s iconic tower.
Reports said deployment was also made in parts of downtown in Srinagar in view of shutdown call by joint resistance leadership. The incidents of stone pelting were reported from Navakdal, Kanikadal and Habakadal areas of downtown area.
Authorities also barred Friday congregation prayers at historic Jamia Masjid at Nawhata due to apprehensions of protests and clashes. Locals said that all gates were locked while people were not allowed to move towards the Mosque for prayers. “Once again no prayers allowed in barricaded and garrisoned downtown including at the #JamaMasjid , while all channels of communication remain blocked and leadership put under forced detention by the ‘republican state’,” Hurriyat (M) chairman, Mirwaiz Umar tweeted. The government also barred mobile services including internet Thursday night across Valley as a precautionary measure in view of militant threats. The services, however, were restored after functions were over at all places.
Meanwhile, complete shutdown was observed in Srinagar and other districts of Valley while public and private transport also failed to hit roads.