First R-Day in J&K after special status under Art 370, 35A purge

ZAHOOR MALIK. Dated: 1/25/2020 12:51:02 PM

SRINAGAR, Jan 24: This will be the first Republic Day (RD) on January 26 in Jammu and Kashmir after it lost the special status provided in Constitution of India and also got bifurcated into two separate Union Territories (UTs).
In a major move through parliament on August 5 last year, the union government abrogated Article 370 and Article 35A of the constitution and converted J&K state into two UTs.
Amid the major changes, the RD functions will be held in Jammu, Srinagar and all district headquarters besides other places under tight security cover.
Every year the main RD function is held in winter capital Jammu. This time, not a governor but a Lieutenant Governor (LG) will unfurl the national flag in a stadium in Jammu. A function will be held also at Sher-i-Kashmir Cricket Stadium (SKCS) here, where LG’s advisor is expected to be the chief guest.
The republic day (RD) and independence day (ID) functions in past used to be held in Bakhshi Stadium but the venue was shifted to SKCS several years back in view of renovation work in Bakhshi Stadium.
The security machinery is currently busy with the routine security measure for a peaceful RD both in Jammu and Srinagar. This has resulted in the increase in security presence including security check points.
The Independence Day (August 15) function was held here last year 10 days after the abrogation of articles and bifurcation of the state into two union territories. At that time the whole Valley was under siege due to restrictions and spontaneous shutdown. There was complete communication blockade with even not the landline and mobile phones working. Large number of political and business leaders was under detention and so were the prominent lawyers. They include the three former chief minister Dr Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, who have not been released yet, while some others are being set free in a phased manner.
National security advisor Ajit Doval, who was camping in Srinagar for several weeks to monitor and supervise the security arrangements , attended the ID function along with then governor Satya Pal Malik, who hoisted the tri colour, took salute at march past and addressed the gathering.
Unlike the Independence Day function, the republic day function is always a low key affair here since the main function is held in Jammu. But from security point of view both the functions are important. So the elaborate security arrangements are being made both in Jammu and in Srinagar on the day.
Republic Day functions were attacked in Srinagar and Jammu during early 1990s. Series of bomb explosion occurred in a stadium in Jammu when the then governor Gen K V Krishna Rao was addressing function in Jammu. Governor escaped unhurt.
Rockets were fired towards Bakhshi Stadium here when the republic day function was in progress. Police and security men escorted the then governor’s advisor Lt Gen D D Saklani, who was the chief guest, to a safer place. In later years, the republic day and independence day functions continued to pass off peacefully in view of further tightening of security arrangements and taking care of loopholes in security set up.
During early and mid nineties, ensuring a peaceful ID and RR function used to be a hectic security exercise, which used to start with cordon and search operation days before the functions. Taking over of buildings including residential houses around Bakhshi Stadium by security personnel was a routine. The security drill used to cause lot of inconvenience to the patients and attendants at the neighbouring maternity ward in Lal Ded hospital. Same was the case at Children’s Hospital, which was later shifted to Sonawar. Shifting of the venue of RD and ID functions to SKCS also ended the inconvenience at Lal Ded hospital.
With security scenario having undergone lot of improvement since nineties, the inconvenience to people now due to security measures days ahead of RD and ID functions has also gotten reduced to a greater extent. However, on the RD and ID the security grid imposes tough restrictions by blocking important roads and bridges. Even the mobile phone services are suspended for several hours.



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