Even as the Kashmir Valley remained shut down after a call issued by a host of separatist groups on Saturday, Republic Day celebrations progressed smoothly with ceremonial parades and the unfurling of the tricolour at all district headquarters and major towns across Jammu and Kashmir.

Governor N.N. Vohra unfurled the national flag at the Maulana Azad Stadium in Jammu. Contingents of different wings of the Jammu and Kashmir Police, paramilitary forces, the Home Guards and Civil Defence, besides students drawn from over a dozen of the government and private schools, participated in the parade. A demonstration of artillery guns and ammunition by the Army contingent and a cultural programme were the key features of the celebration.

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, some of his ministerial and party colleagues, leaders and legislators of the ruling coalition and the mainstream opposition parties, judges of the State High Court, senior police and Army officials, heads of different State commissions and autonomous bodies, Vice Chancellors of Universities and the chairman of the Jammu and Kashmir Bank attended theceremony.

In the 21 other district headquarters in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, Ministers in Mr. Abdullah’s Cabinet unfurled the tricolour and delivered speeches after inspection of the ceremonial parades. Senior government functionaries and legislators presided over the ceremonies at almost all the major townships across the State.

In the Kashmir Valley, the largest event took place at Bakhshi Memorial Sports Stadium where the Minister of Rural Development Ali Mohammad Sagarreceived salute and delivered a speech. The civilian presence was remarkably thin in the wake of a Hurriyat-sponsored shutdown and restrictions of movement enforced by the police and security forces. The fact that the previous night was the coldest of the winter in the valley could have also been behind the wafer thin presence of civilians.

Notwithstanding the routine security-related apprehensions, no untoward incident was reported from anywhere in the State.With almost all the shops shut, transport off the road and the streets dotted with police and security forces, hundreds of peoples, particularly the activists of the mainstream political parties, participated in the R-Day functions at all places, excluding Srinagar. Reports said that cultural programmes presented by students of government and private schools were the key component of the R-Day events at all the venues. J&K Police personnel and other forces presented daredevil shows at several places.

Security forces’ installations and Central government offices also observed the R-Day with the hoisting of the tricolour and the presentation of cultural programmes.

At the event in Jammu, Mr. Vohra highlighted the achievements of the Omar Abdullah coalition government in the last four years. He said that the government was working on a major employment drive with the recruitment of nearly 70,000 unemployed youth in the government services.

He said the State was witnessing an unprecedented road communication revolution with hundreds of projects being under way or in approval.