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Valley turns fortress ahead of Republic Day
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January 22, 2007 13:08 IST

With less than a week left for Republic Day, security forces have intensified search and cordon operations across Kashmir valley to thwart any militant plans to disrupt the celebrations, official sources said.

Security forces have erected barriers all around Bakshi Stadium as part of an exercise to prevent militants from getting a peep at the main venue of celebrations in Srinagar, the sources said, adding that the roads around the venue would be sealed on Tuesday to ensure trouble free celebrations.

Tight security arrangements are also being made around other vital installations across the valley for the smooth conduct of the celebrations, the sources said.

Besides the traditional cordon and search operations around the venues of Republic Day celebrations and checking of vehicles in the city, the forces are also using electronic surveillance gadgets like closed-circuit TV cameras to keep an eye on suspicious persons in the city, the sources said.

Security forces have installed CCTV cameras at busy market areas and sensitive installations in view of frequent grenade attacks in the past. All necessary precautions have been taken to thwart the designs of militants to create trouble on the occasion, they said.

Additional deployment of paramilitary and police personnel, about eight battalions, would be carried out in and around the vital installations to thwart the designs of the militants, the sources said.

The additional security arrangements include area domination, cordon and searches in the localities close to the vital installations and checking of vehicles and pedestrians in the main areas of the city, the sources said.

Although the practice of suprise crackdowns in the city had been done away with since 2002 assembly elections, the security forces have again started to round up people from busy market areas and subject them to body searches and frisking of their belongings in view of high number of grenade attacks in the past year.

A senior security officer said militants have been using the low risk option of hit and run by hurling a grenade. "We have to think a step ahead of them which is why we have introduced the surprise frisking," he said.

"Security arrangements are normally beefed up on the basis of intelligence inputs gathered by various agencies but we do not want to take any chance on the eve of either the Republic Day or Independence Day as a minor blast here or there gets them the cheap publicity and symbolic presence they need for their survival," he added.

Most of the areas around the stadium, including Aloochi Bagh, Gogji Bagh, Jawahar Nagar, Rajbagh, Magharmal Bagh, Iqbal Park area, Lal Ded maternity hospital, Hari Singh High Street, Lal Chowk and Budshah Chowk, have been witness to frequent cordon and search operations during the past couple of weeks to ensure that militants' plans are foiled.
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