The Jammu and Kashmir govenmemt eased security restrictions in Srinagar on Monday, after the city, had virtually turned into a fortress, to ensure trouble-free Republic day on Tuesday.
Police and paramilitary forces remained deployed in strength in Srinagar and other major towns of the valley but checking of vehicles and frisking of pedestrians was restricted to a few places. Barring the roads around Bakshi Stadium - the main venue for the Republic day function - there was no restriction on the movement of pedestrians, a police official said.
"We have not lowered the guard but several steps have been taken to avoid unnecessary harassment to the masses. Instead of random checking at every half-a-km in the city, the vehicles are being searched at a few places particularly at the entry points," the official said.
The roads leading to the stadium have been closed, with a heavy deployment of police and paramilitary forces. Till last few years, the denizens of Srinagar had to witness unprecedented security arrangements particularly on Republic and Independence day with security forces sealing all roads in the city a day ahead of such functions.
"We were expecting further relief to the people this time but the warning by intelligence agencies about the militants plan to disrupt the Republic day coinciding with spurt in militant activities since the beginning of this year left us with no option but to enhance the measures to ensure safety of the people," the officer said.
The denizens welcomed the easing of the restrictions compared to last few days. "Had the checking intensified further, Srinagar would have turned into a ghost town - the scene which was usual on these days a few years back," Waseem, a local shopkeeper, said. Official sources said the attendance in government and semi-government offices also remained scant as the employees either reached late or left early citing security concerns.
Meanwhile, both factions of Hurriyat Conference, High Court Bar Association and other separatists have called for a general strike and observance of "black day" on Tuesday.