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JK: Total shutdown marks I-Day

By Mukhtar Ahmad and Krishnakumar P in Srinagar
August 15, 2008 13:12 IST
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Heightened security and a total shutdown marked the Independence Day in Kashmir where the official functions passed off peacefully on Friday.

The valley was rocked by week-long violence which took a toll of 22 lives and left over 400 wounded.

The call for Friday's protest strike was issued by both factions of the separatist, All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC).

Summer capital Srinagar wore a deserted look with roads totally empty of civilian, pedestrians and vehicular traffic.

Police and paramilitary troops were seen patrolling the streets, enforcing strict security restriction with Bakhshi stadium being the focus of today's security bandobust.

The stadium, venue for the main Independence Day function was surrounded by layers of security, provided by specially trained commandos, police and paramilitary, central reserve police force (CRPF).

All the roads leading to the venue had been barricaded and blocked by parked trucks.

The shadow of the events of the week was visible at the function, with the attendance less than usual and splash of colours that school children would lend to it, being absent.

Governor N.N.Vohra hoisted the flag and took salute at the march past of paramilitary and police at the function.

Addressing the function Vohra appealed the people of the state to "maintain peace and calm in this difficult hour, in keeping with the glorious traditions of secularism, brotherhood and communal harmony."

"It should be our collective responsibility to resolve the most contentious issues through the democratic process, based on dialogue and conciliation."

Despite heavy security in the capital city, groups of people held demonstrations in the Habbakadal and Khanyar localities of summer capital this afternoon.

Carrying black flags, the protestors were shouting pro-freedom slogans.

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Mukhtar Ahmad and Krishnakumar P in Srinagar