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In a first, Srinagar Municipality hoists tricolour

Amid separatist-sponsored hartal, the newly elected Mayor Junaid Azim Mattu unfurled the national flag and inspected the J&K police guard in the SMC complex at Karan Nagar on Saturday.

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In a first, Srinagar Municipality hoists tricolour
Mayor Junaid Azim Mattu unfurling the national flag at SMC complex in Srinagar
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In what could be termed as a new awakening in the valley, the national flag was unfurled for the first time at the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) office in the heart of the city on the Republic Day.

Amid separatist-sponsored hartal, the newly elected Mayor Junaid Azim Mattu unfurled the national flag and inspected the J&K police guard in the SMC complex at Karan Nagar on Saturday.

"Unfurled the tricolour and inspected the J&K Police Guard at Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) Complex, Srinagar today after attending the Republic Day Parade at Sher-e-Kashmir Stadium. Republic Day greetings to all of you", tweeted Mattu with his picture saluting the tricolour.

The move evoked praise from the BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav who took to twitter to congratulate the Mayor. "Hearty congrats and best wishes to Mayor Junaid Mattu of Srinagar Municipal Corporation for hoisting the national flag for the first time in corporation building on Republic Day", he said.

The Urban Local Bodies elections were held after 13 years in October last year which saw a low turnout. Two main political parties National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party boycotted the polls over the issue of Article 35 A.

Mattu, who quit National Conference and contested as independent was nominated for the post of Mayor by the Peoples Conference (PC) led by separatist turned pro India leader Sajad Lone and supported by BJP.

Elsewhere, the 70th Republic Day was celebrated amid tight security across the Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday. The main function was held in the winter capital of Jammu where Governor Satya Pal Malik hoisted the tricolour. Malik inspected the parade and took the salute at the impressive March Past at the Sports Stadium of Jammu University.

Addressing the people, Malik accused Pakistan of supporting terrorists to disrupt peace and harmony in the restive state. "Our neighbouring country continues to support terrorists to disrupt peace and harmony in the state. There have been repeated attempts to infiltrate terrorists across the International Border and Line of Control", he said.

Malik said repeated ceasefire violations have brought untold hardships to the people living in the villages along the borders. "Government is taking required measures to alleviate the sufferings of the border population", he said.

Journalists boycotted the main function at Sher-e-Kashmir Cricket Stadium in Srinagar after some photojournalists were barred from entering into the venue. Journalists later marched in protest and staged a sit-in. Several political and journalistic bodies condemned the action of the authorities.

Later under pressure, Governor's advisor K Vijay Kumar assured that the issue of some journalists not being permitted to cover the Republic Day function in Srinagar would be looked into. He said the entire process of security clearance for issuance of passes to journalists shall be reviewed for better coordination in future.

"It is learnt that today at Republic Day parade venue in Srinagar some journalists were not permitted to cover the event as the security passes issued to them were found not to be authenticated. The matter shall be looked into," Advisor Kumar, who is Incharge Home Department, said.

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