Security forces should carry on with a close “vigil without lowering their guard” till peace returns in Jammu and Kashmir, Governor N N Vohra on Sunday said at the Republic Day flag-hoisting ceremony in Jammu.
Pointing at the rising incidents of ceasefire violations and infiltration in the state, the governor also urged Pakistan to maintain calm along the border. The main ceremony Republic Day for the state was held at Maulana Azad Stadium in Jammu where the governor hoisted the national flag and took the salute at the parade in which contingents of army, paramilitary forces, police and school students took part.
The ceremony in the summer capital Srinagar was led by the Minister for Panchayat Raj, Ali Mohammad Sagar, who called for a dialogue between the separatists and the Centre for resolving the political issues facing the state. The function was held under a tight security cover with all roads leading to Bakshi Stadium being sealed as part of the arrangements.
But Republic Day was not without incident in the Valley where a fresh ceasefire violation occurred in Uri sector, army said.
An army officer said that Indian troops did not retaliate to the three-hour firing from the Pakistani side. No casualties were reported in the firing.
Meanwhile, shops and business establishments remained closed and traffic remained off the roads in most parts of the Valley in response to a strike called by hardline Hurriyat Conference leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani and other separatists over their demand for a resolution of the Kashmir issue.
Also, cellphones and wireless internet services across the Valley were temporarily suspended as part of the precautionary measures for Republic Day. Militants have used mobile phones in the past to trigger remote-controlled explosive devices in Kashmir.
At the official function in Jammu, Vohra said, “Needless to say, till a peaceful environment emerges, our security forces shall continue to enforce vigil along the frontiers without lowering their guard.
“The repeated breach of the ceasefire and continuing attempts at infiltration… in the past year have yet again disrupted normalcy and caused problems for our people.” Without naming Pakistan, he added, “It is hoped that our neighbour shall respond positively to the initiatives which have recently been taken by the government of India to once again urge it to maintain calm.”
Praising the security forces and police personnel, he said, “I take this opportunity to pay tribute to state and central police forces and the army for their unflinching devotion to duty and pay homage to our brave officers who laid down their lives to protect the country’s territorial integrity”. Amid tight security, Republic Day celebrations passed off peacefully in the Samba, Kathua, Reasi, Udhampur, Doda, Rajouri, Poonch, Kishtwar and Ramban districts, officials said.
“Republic Day celebrations in all districts, tehsil and blocks of Jammu division passed off peacefully. “There was increased participation by the people at these functions in all the districts,” said Jammu Divisional Commissioner, Shant Manu.
One convict at Amphalla Jail and five from Kotbalwal Jail were released in view of Republic Day. “Terrorism and militancy have resulted in large human and economic losses and caused prolonged miseries for the common man”, the governor said in Jammu.
“The long period of unrest has also adversely affected the functioning of the administrative machinery and public institutions,” he said, adding that it was “necessary to fill up this gap and regain the required momentum”.
He, however, added that, “Despite certain constraints, the state was able to achieve a growth rate of 6.14 per cent in 2012-13, which is higher than the national average”. However, there is a need to systematically tackle the problems of unemployment and the acute shortage of power in J-K if the state was to forge ahead, the governor said.