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Thousands of security forces to guard New Delhi for Republic Day celebrations

Thousands of security forces to guard New Delhi for Republic Day celebrations

Metro rail services in India's capital were to be suspended and snipers positioned across the city to prevent militant attacks during national day celebrations on Friday, officials said.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin, who arrived Thursday for a two-day visit, was to be the chief guest at a parade in downtown New Delhi _ the highlight of the annual Republic Day festivities.
At least 15,000 police and security forces have been deployed across the city, said Dipendra Pathak, a top police official. Much of downtown New Delhi has been sealed off and snipers have been deployed to key positions, he said.
Authorities announced that the city's metro rail service would be partially shut down for several hours Friday to prevent terror attacks on the transport service.
Although there have been no specific threats, a spate of deadly bombings in 2006 _ from the attack on a temple in the Hindu holy city of Varanasi to the Mumbai railway bombs that killed more than 200 people _ warranted the extra security, Pathak said.
Also, several separatist groups in the country's restive northeast and in the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir have called general strikes for Republic Day, which marks the adoption of India's democratic constitution in 1950. The country gained freedom from British colonial rule in 1947.
Security was tightened at all major government telecommunications and power installations, with additional personnel deployed, Pathak said.
In the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir, authorities have closed roads leading to a soccer stadium in Srinagar _ the summer capital of India's Jammu-Kashmir state _ where a parade was to be held on Friday, said Farooq Ahmed, a deputy-inspector general of police.
"There are intelligence inputs that militants will try to disrupt the Republic Day functions in Kashmir," Ahmed said. "We're doing everything possible to thwart any possible attempt."
Hezb-ul-Mujahedeen, the largest Kashmiri rebel group, and the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, an umbrella group of separatist political and religious groups, have all called for a general strike in the Kashmir Valley on India's national day.
The Hezb-ul-Mujahedeen is one of more than a dozen Islamic militant groups that have been fighting since 1989, seeking Muslim-majority Kashmir's independence from predominantly Hindu India, or its merger with Islamic Pakistan.
More than 68,000 people, most of them civilians, have been killed in the 18-year old conflict.
The Himalayan territory of Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan, which both claim it in entirety and have fought two wars over it since their independence from Britain in 1947.
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Associated Press reporter Aijaz Hussain in Srinagar contributed to this report .


Updated : 2020-12-03 13:20 GMT+08:00