M A I N   N E W S

Blast fails to mar I-Day function
Tribune News service

Srinagar, August 15
An explosive device went off outside the Bakshi Stadium, the venue of Independence Day celebrations, here this morning, where stringent security measures were in place.

No one was injured in the explosion which took place at the fencing wall of Iqbal Park, opposite to it, about one hour before the beginning of the function attended by the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed. Another explosion was reported from a school ground at Pattan, about 30 km north of here, this morning without causing any damage, though the premises was not being used as the venue of Independence Day celebrations.

A strike was also observed across the valley in response to a call given by several organisations. All the shops and business establishments were closed and traffic was off the roads. People, who had been facing repeated security checks and restrictions over the past several days preferred to remain indoors today. However, over 5,000 people attended the main function at Bakshi Stadium, though the figure was officially put at 10,000.

Tight security arrangements were made in and around the stadium to ensure smooth conduct of the celebrations and thwart any designs of militants to create trouble. All roads leading to Bakshi Stadium were sealed off and no private vehicles were allowed in the area. Those who attended the celebrations were either carried in official vehicles or had to cover on foot the distance of over 1 km to reach the main venue.

The police said the explosion was caused by a device fitted underground close to the fencing wall of Iqbal Park, a tourist destination, opposite to a gate of the Stadium. It was detected during a routine search of the area by high power devices.

Panic gripped students of various schools in the Bakshi Stadium when the explosion took place. Girls were later shifted to the other side of the stadium. The explosion took place at about 8.45 a.m., while the proceedings of the two-hour-long function passed off without any changes.

The Chief Minister accompanied by his daughter, MP and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, and wife later arrived at 10 a.m. His ministerial colleagues, legislators and party leaders, senior civil and security officers were also among those who were present. He unfurled the Tricolour and inspected the parade that was followed by march past of various contingents of the police, the BSF, the CRPF, NCC cadets and schoolchildren.

Over 1,300 students from various schools participated. A colourful cultural programme and adventure sports events, organised by the state Information Department, the Education Department, the Jammu and Kashmir State Academy of Art, Culture and Languages and the dare devil acts of the jawans of the police were the main highlights of the event. 

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