August 5, 2021: Another Day In Kashmir Calendar?

SRINAGAR: The second anniversary of the reading down of Article 370 and subsequent bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir has adequately demonstrated that yet another day of activity has emerged on the Kashmir calendar. The day witnessed the right-wing camp celebrating the day and those opposing it mourning over the loss.

There were at least two incidents of violence across Kashmir, both involving militancy. In one incident, a police party was reportedly attacked in north Kashmir, a report denied by the Jammu and Kashmir Police. There were no losses, however.

In the second instance, there was a blast in a garbage container in Nawhatta followed by various shots being fired in the air, according to witnesses who watched it and put the details on social media. The blast triggered panic in the area. Later, additional paramilitary men were deployed in the belt.

Parts of Srinagar uptown were open in the morning, unlike the Lal Chowk and the main Srinagar city. In the afternoon, however, Lal Chowk opened within minutes. Traders alleged they were pressurised by the police to open their shops and in certain cases, their locks were broken. Social media was flooded with images vindicating the allegation. Reports from districts suggest the markets were open and the skeletal transport services were running.

PM Tweets

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that since the abrogation of Article 370 two years ago there has been unprecedented peace and progress in Jammu and Kashmir.

“A historic day. Two years ago, on this day, the first big step towards a #NewJammuKashmir was taken. Since then, there has been unprecedented peace & progress in the region. Head to Your Voice section of Volunteer module on NaMo App for informative content, graphics and more!” tweeted the Prime Minister.

PAGD Meeting

In the forenoon, PAGD leaders including Dr Farooq Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti, Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami and others met at Dr Farooq’s house. It was not immediately known, what they discussed or did.

The alliance spokesman, Tarigami, however, told the media that they “reiterated our resolve to continue our struggle for the restoration of our legitimate rights”.

“Despite tall claims of the government, the situation since August 5, 2019, is worsening day by day. They claimed that normalcy will be restored and violence will end, but look what they have said on the floor of the Parliament recently in response to a question about statehood. The minister said that statehood will be restored only at an appropriate time when normalcy is restored,” Tarigami was quoted saying. He said the claim of restoring peace in the region remains unfulfilled.

“If you move around whether it is Kashmir or Jammu, or even in fact in Ladakh region as well, whatever development was initiated by the previous governments, even that is not yet completed,” Tarigami said. “They claimed that a lot of investment will be made here that will generate employment, that will generate hope for the youngsters, just tell me, where are those projects, where is that investment taking place? Forget about Kashmir, what about Jammu? Ask the chamber there, ask the chamber here and ask the people in Leh.”

PDP President Mehbooba Mufti’s protest march was interrupted by Jammu and Kashmir Police. KL Image: Bilal Bahadur

Mehbooba On Road

Soon after, Memhbooba Mufti appeared in her office near the GPO. Her party workers had unfurled a black flag which, witnesses said, was removed by the police. Accompanied by her party workers, she moved in a protest march towards Lal Chowk. However, she was stopped by the police near the Traffic Police Office where she resorted to sloganeering and talked to the media.

Mehbooba and her party workers wore black bands. They were raising slogans against the August 5 decision.

“This is a black day for us when our identity was snatched away from us,” Mehbooba told reporters. “It is regretful that the BJP is celebrating the occasion across the country while the people of Jammu and Kashmir are grieving it. Today is the day of mourning for the residents of Jammu and Kashmir. All of us are mourning today because of the era of oppression and brutality which was started by the BJP led Government on August 5, 2019.”

Mehbboba alleged that people were being detained, shop keepers being threatened with their leases being cancelled if they do not keep their shops open.

PDP brought out a similar protest in Jammu.

BJP Celebrations

BJP had a detailed function at their uptown office which was presided over by party general secretary Tarun Chug. The leaders made long speeches in celebration of the undoing of the special position and cut a cake for the cameras. They later moved on the road, raised slogans in praise of the Prime Minister, Home Minister and the Syama Prasad Mookerji.

“People were seen hoisting the tricolour and distributing sweets,” Ashok Koul, the party leader told a local news gatherer. “Our workers unfurled the national flag in their localities following Covid-19 related guidelines and SOPs. Common people at various places also hoisted the tricolour on the rooftops to express their happiness on the second anniversary of abrogation of Article 370 and 35A.”

BJP National General Secretary Tarun Chugh Celebrated Azaadi Ka Maha Utsav at Church Lane Srinagar, senior BJP leaders of Kashmir were present on this occasion. KL Image: Bilal Bahadur

Congress Questions

Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress has asked BJP to explain what has changed in Jammu and Kashmir in two years. They reminded BJP of the promise that 50,000 government jobs will be delivered in three months.

JKPCC Chief Spokesperson Ravinder Sharma told reporters that nothing much happened in Jammu and Kashmir barring it lost its identity, rights and protections available to its residents. Sharma was flanked by former minister and Vice President Raman Bhalla, General Secretary PCC Thakur Balwan Singh, Yogesh Sawhney and Thakur Manmohan Singh.

Sharma counted the promises that BJP had made and pooh-poohed the Dil ki aur Dilon Ki Doori, insisting the alienation has increased so has militancy.

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