Unmanned aerial Vehicles (UAVs) were used for surveillance for the first time in Jammu and Kashmir and mobile phone and internet services were shut down as part of the security drill to ensure peaceful Independence Day celebrations in the Valley today. For the first time, a UAV was seen hovering over the Bakshi Stadium here — the venue for main Independence Day function — relaying images to an LCD screen installed at the security control room.
The remote-controlled UAV has a range covering an area of nearly one kilometre, a senior security official said. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah unfurled the tricolour at Bakshi stadium. He was given a guard of honour after which the contingents of various security forces, police and school children took part in the march past. Among other security measures, the authorities shut down cell phone services and mobile internet services while the functions were in progress. This measure has become a part of the security drill for Independence Day and Republic Day celebration after militants used a cell phone to trigger an IED close to Bakshi stadium in 2005. Closed circuit TV cameras were installed within the Bakshi Stadium to keep an eye on any suspicious elements.
Sharpshooters had been positioned atop the buildings surrounding the Bakshi Stadium to thwart any attempts to militants to stage an attack. Security barricades were erected at many places across the city and roads leading to the Bakshi stadium in a radius of one kilometre were sealed since last night. Only persons who had invitation for the function were allowed to proceed beyond these barricades. Security was intensified this Independence Day in view of the recent spurt in militant attacks on security forces in Kashmir Valley. Independence Day functions were also held at all district headquarters in the Valley where cabinet colleagues of Omar took salute at the parades. The celebrations passed off peacefully and there were no reports of any untoward incident from anywhere in the Valley, a police spokesman said.