BJP activists held in Kashmir, celebrations peaceful


Srinagar : Three Kashmiri separatist leaders and some Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) activists were arrested Wednesday when they tried to take out their separate marches to Lal Chowk here in defiance of security restrictions on Republic Day that passed off peacefully.

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Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front’s (JKLF) Yasin Malik, moderate Hurriyat Conference leaders Bilal Lone and Shahidul Islam and a dozen of their supporters were arrested near Maisuma locality.

Police stopped them from marching to Lal Chowk, the main business centre of the city, where the BJP had also planned to unfurl the national flag.

The arrests came after seven BJP activists were also held by police to foil their proposed flag hoisting march.

Six BJP activists were taken into custody immediately after they came out of a hotel near Lal Chowk and began walking towards the city centre.

Another activist was arrested in Residency Road area adjacent to Lal Chowk when he appeared with the national and the BJP flags.

Security in and around Lal Chowk had been mounted since Tuesday to scuttle the proposed marches by the BJP and the JKLF.

Authorities imposed curfew-like restrictions in the city.

State finance minister Abdul Rahim Rather unfurled the tricolour and took salute at the Bakshi Stadium, the main Republic Day parade venue here, as smartly turned out contingents of police, paramilitary, civil defence and school children marched past.

All roads leading to the venue were sealed and entry was strictly regulated through special passes.

Cultural programmes were also held at the stadium after the parade in which the cultural diversity of the state was highlighted by various performing groups.

“Dialogue and negotiations are the only way out of the present problem, and we appeal to everyone to come forward and join the dialogue process,” the minister said.

He highlighted the achievements of the Omar Abdullah-led National Conference-Congress government, which completed two years in office early this month.

All mobile phone connectivity across the valley remained suspended since morning as a security precaution.

Many times in the past, separatist guerrillas have carried out improvised explosive device explosions using mobile phones.

Impressive parades were also held in all the districts, with senior ministers unfurling the Indian flag.

No major untoward incident was reported in the valley though some black flags were seen in Srinagar’s Old City areas in response to the separatist appeals to observe Republic Day as a black day.