India’s 69th Republic Day celebrations on Friday 26 January 2018 were marked by a security clampdown in Kashmir, as authorities suspended internet services, blocked phone services and thousands of soldiers patrolled the streets.
The main celebratory event was held amid tight security at a sports stadium in the region’s main city, Srinagar, and was attended by politicians and top officers of the security apparatus.
Residents, however, boycotted the ceremony.
Separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani said: “India has no right to celebrate Republic Day as it has occupied Jammu Kashmir with its military might.”
Geelani leads the All Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC), an amalgam of separatist leaderships in Kashmir. Separatists fight for independence or merging the region with Pakistan.
APHC said the day should be observed as a “black day” and called for a boycott of all celebrations.
“India claims to be world’s largest democracy but virtually stands exposed in Jammu Kashmir as it is trampling all basic and fundamental rights of people since past seven decades,” an APHC statement said.