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Heightened security ahead of Republic Day in J&K

Jammu/Srinagar: Extraordinary security arrangements have been put in place in Jammu and Kashmir ahead of Republic Day on Thursday.

Heightened tensions have marked Republic Day for the last 27 years ever since the separatist armed struggle started in the Kashmir Valley in 1990.

As the security agencies raise their guard to prevent separatists from disrupting official functions, militants have been on the lookout for loopholes in the security grid to make their presence felt.

The main Republic Day flag hoisting and parade is scheduled to take place at Maulana Azad Stadium in Jammu where state Governor N.N. Vohra will take the salute.

Vigil has been intensified at the international border in Jammu, Samba and Kathua districts to prevent any terrorist attempt to sneak in from the Pakistani side while people and authorities are busy celebrating Republic Day.

State Director General of Police S.P. Vaid is personally making nocturnal rounds in Jammu city to assess the preparedness of the security forces.

Vaid has directed all supervisory officers to be present alongside the forces while maintaining round-the-clock vigil.

A three-tier security ring manned by the army, paramilitary forces and police has been put in place to sanitise areas and thwart any militant attempt to attack parade venues or sensitive installations in the state.

Makeshift drop gates and barricades have been erected at many places in various cities.

Private and passenger vehicles are being stopped and occupants thoroughly frisked before allowing onward passage.

Such check posts have come up at all entry points into the twin capitals of Jammu and Srinagar.

According to a senior paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force official, the security forces had reports that in the background of last year’s unrest in the valley the militants have plans to make their presence felt around January 26.

The official also said security preparedness was higher this year because more militants had infiltrated into the state from across the Line of Control ( LoC) in 2016 as compared to 2015 and 2014.

Two foreign militants of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) outfit were killed by the security forces in north Kashmir’s Ganderbal district on Tuesday.

Abu Ans and Abu Ali, the slain militants, had plans to carry out ‘Fidayeen’ (suicide) attacks in Srinagar city around January 26, security agencies believe.

Security forces have deployed quick response anti-fidayeen teams to react to any such eventuality.

Due to frequent checking and frisking carried out by the security forces, there were fewer vehicles on the roads in Srinagar on Wednesday.

Rain and snowfall also encouraged Kashmiris to stay indoors to avoid the biting chill outside.

In the valley flag hoisting and ceremonial parades are scheduled to take place at every district headquarter, but the bigger function will be held at Bakshi Stadium in Srinagar.

The stadium has been taken over by the security forces ahead of January 26 and entry is regulated through an electronically manned access control system.

CCTV cameras mounted at vantage points around busy traffic crossings and sensitive installations, sniffer dogs and sharp shooters posted on high rise buildings are some of the steps taken to provide foolproof security to the official functions in the state.

IANS