Independence Day as it happened: PM Modi's strong message for Pakistan, but no words on Kashmir - Firstpost
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Independence Day as it happened: PM Modi's strong message for Pakistan, but no words on Kashmir

Aug 15, 2016

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A hawk-eye vigil is being kept across Delhi as Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the nation from 17th century Red Fort on the 70th Independence Day while tight security remained in force in violence-hit Kashmir Valley as a precautionary measure.

Thousands of security personnel have been deployed in and around the historic Mughal fort which will see the presence of senior ministers, top bureaucrats and foreign dignitaries, besides a large audience to hear the Prime Minister.

A multi-layer security has also been thrown around Rajpath where a seven-day-long cultural festival 'Bharat Parv' is underway. The step has been taken as people have been flocking to the area to witness the illumination of North Block, South Block and other government buildings after sunset in the run up to August 15.

Strict security measures were in force in curfew-bound Srinagar ahead of the Independence Day celebrations with large contingents of paramilitary and police personnnel being deployed across the city.

Bakhshi Stadium — the main venue of the Independence Day function in Jammu and Kashmir — has been turned into a virtual fortress. "All the roads leading to Bakhshi Stadium have been sealed and heavy deployment of security forces carried out en route to ensure peaceful celebrations tomorrow," a police official said.

Preparations on for Independence Day celebrations in Ahmedabad. PTI

Preparations on for Independence Day celebrations in Ahmedabad. PTI

He said there were no inputs about the possibility of militant attacks to disrupt the celebrations but the security grid is not taking any chances. "The usual security drill is being followed but some extra measures have been put in place to ensure no mob violence takes place around the venues in Srinagar or elsewhere in the Valley," the official said.

Due to the ongoing unrest -- that began on July 9 following killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, mobile telephony and internet services have already been snapped in the Valley.

In the past, the mobile phone and mobile internet services used to be disabled for few hours during Independence Day and Republic Day celebrations as a precautionary measure to prevent militants from using these devices to trigger explosions.

Curfew was extended to several places in Kashmir in view of the separatists' call for a march to the heart of Srinagar even as restrictions on the movement of people remained in rest of the Valley.

Despite curfew, separatists elements managed to hoist Pakistan flags in many localities across Kashmir to mark the Independence Day of the neighbouring country, the official said, adding security forces pulled down the flags as soon as they were noticed.

56 people, including two policemen, have been killed and several thousand others have been injured in the clashes in the Valley that began on July 9.

In Delhi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh reviewed the security situation in the country, particularly in J-K, on the eve of Independence Day.

The top brass of the security establishment briefed him on the prevailing situation in the country and the steps taken to foil any attempt by terrorists and other elements to disturb peace, official sources said.

Army and NSG officials have set up a special communication and command centre to keep a close watch on the proceedings at Red Fort.

Special measures are being taken to meet "on-the-spot situations" such as the Prime Minister choosing to meet people at the venue as he has done earlier, officials said.

CCTV cameras have been installed along the route to be taken by the PM's cavalcade from 7 RCR to Red Fort, besides 200 CCTVs and two high-mast, high-resolution cameras at the fort premises.

Security has also been beefed up and police patrolling intensified in North East, Punjab, especially the border districts, Haryana and other parts of the country in the view of the celebrations with bomb disposal squads being deployed at the main function venues.

With inputs from PTI

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