Srinagar cautious, no big screens for Mohali match


Srinagar : Ban on gathering of more than four people was in place in this summer capital city Wednesday, traffic ran thin, and educational institutions and government offices recorded minimum attendances ahead of the Mohali clash between India and Pakistan.

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“Nobody would be allowed to disturb peace and tranquillity in the city,” said Ashiq Hussain Bukhari, Srinagar’s senior superintendent of police (SSP).

He also said no big screen viewing of the day’s semifinal clash would be allowed in market squares and public places.

“You are most welcome to watch the game at home. Market squares and public places are not for activities like this. Otherwise also, an assembly of five or more people has been declared as unlawful in the city by the district magistrate,” the officer said.

The decision to disallow big screen viewing of the match came after reports that many youth had decided to mount large LCD television screens at market squares to enable public viewing of the day’s game in Mohali.

Police and the civil administration have sent requests to the local electricity department to ensure that uninterrupted electric supply is maintained, especially in the old city areas of Srinagar, so that people can watch the game at their homes.

Old city Srinagar has traditionally been the hotbed of separatist sentiment in Kashmir and the Pakistan cricket team has a large fan following in the old city areas.

Police have also advised people not to use fire crackers.

Ironically, as police in Srinagar decided not to allow big screen viewing of the match at public places, the army in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district has already made arrangements for big screen viewing of the match by people.

“About 500 sports lovers can see the match at the Sherwani Memorial Hall in the town while over 2,000 others can enjoy the game at the local cricket stadium where the army has put up big LCD televisions for the people,” a source in Baramulla town told IANS.

Baramulla town also has a large separatist constituency and tempers have always run high there whenever the two South Asian neighbours have faced each other in a sporting event.

Srinagar city and other major towns of the valley are virtually sitting on the edge, with power generators and inverters in high demand because of the erratic electric power supply here.

“I have repaired more than 200 electric generators during the last four days. Everybody seems to be repairing an old electric generator or buying a new one,” said Gulam Nabi, a generator mechanic here.