Another August 5 & People in Kashmir Remain Locked Indoors

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KO Photos: Abid Bhat

Srinagar- Curfew-like restrictions remained enforced across Kashmir on Wednesday, the first anniversary of revocation of semi-autonomous status of Jammu and Kashmir.

“Police and CRPF personnel were deployed in strength all across the Valley, especially Srinagar city and major towns, to keep a lid on any form of protests, even as no one had called for them.

The officials said police vehicles, fitted with public address system, went around localities soon after day break announcing imposition of strict restrictions for combating COVID-19 spread.

“There is a ban on assembly of more than three persons and people are requested not to violate the law and stay indoors,” the police said.

Barricades have been set up at hundreds of places in the valley including Srinagar city to regulate movement of essential services and emergencies, while concertina wires have been laid to block some parts of the roads, the officials said.

Authorities in Srinagar had on Monday announced that curfew will be imposed in Srinagar city “in view of inputs about violent protests endangering public life and property as the separatist and Pakistan-sponsored groups were planning to observe 5 August as a Black Day.”

However, the order imposing curfew was suddenly withdrawn on Tuesday evening.

An official spokesman said the decision to revoke the curfew order was taken as Tuesday passed off without any untoward incident.

Govt Curbs Foil Farooq Abdullah’s Meet

Meanwhile a meeting of some political parties called by Jammu and Kashmir’s veteran leader Farooq Abdullah on Wednesday to discuss the situation arising out of the abrogation of Article 370 provisions a year ago could not be held due to strict restrictions imposed by authorities, his National Conference said.

Abdullah had invited leaders of several political parties to his residence on Gupkar Road to chalk out a joint political strategy for restoration of the special status through democratic means.

National Conference MP from Anantnag in south Kashmir Hasnain Masoodi and PDP’s Rajya Sabha member Fayaz Mir were turned away from Gupkar Road citing restrictions imposed by the authorities due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the district, NC leaders said.

CPI(M) leader M Y Tarigami, NC MP from Baramulla in north Kashmir Akbar Lone and Abdullah’s nephew Muzzafar Shah, who heads the Awami National Conference, were stopped at their residences and not allowed to go out, they said.

Former chief minister and Abdullah’s son Omar Abdullah took to Twitter to say that the authorities in Kashmir did not allow the meeting to take place.

Omar Abdullah, who is the vice president of the NC, said the Gupkar Road — leading to his residence and that of his father — was sealed by the authorities.

“One year on, this is Gupkar road today – police vehicles opposite our gates, concertina wire strung across the road at regular intervals and no vehicles allowed. My father had called a meeting of leaders of MAINSTREAM parties to deliberate on the current situation,” Omar Abdullah said on Twitter, along with two pictures of the deserted road.

The former chief minister said, “Clearly the meeting is not being allowed to go ahead. The BJP gets to announce a 15 day celebration to mark 5th Aug and a handful of us aren’t allowed to meet in my father’s lawn. So much for BJP national leaders wondering why there is no political activity.”

The NC leader said the authorities were “still too afraid” to allow them to meet or carry out any normal political activity.

“One year later the authorities are still too afraid to allow us to meet much less carry out any normal political activity. This fear speaks volumes about the true situation on the ground in Kashmir,” he said in another tweet.

The senior Abdullah had called a similar meeting a day before the Centre’s move last year where the leaders of the valley-based political parties came up with a ‘Gupkar Declaration’ in which they resolved to fight against any attempts to abrogate the constitutional provisions that guaranteed the special status to Jammu and Kashmir or any move to trifurcate the state using democratic means.

Meanwhile, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti’s daughter Iltija Mufti said “prolonged enforced silence” would not “suppress” the emotions of the people of Kashmir forever.

“A year ago we witnessed how a majoritarian govt mutilated and robbed JK in broad daylight. Seasons may have changed but the betrayal will never be forgiven or forgotten. Prolonged enforced silence wont suppress emotions forever,” Iltija posted on her mother’s Twitter handle which she has been using since Mehbooba was taken into custody in August last year.

BJP Members Celebrate, Hoist Tricolour

The BJP’s Kashmir unit on Wednesday celebrated the first anniversary of the revocation of special status of Jammu and Kashmir and accused those protesting the constitutional changes of being sympathisers of the ISIS. BJP leaders and workers unfurled the national flag at the party office and distributed sweets.

“We are celebrating the completion of one year of abrogation of Article 370 (provisions) and the positive changes that it brought in Jammu and Kashmir,” BJP leader Altaf Thakur told reporters at the party office in Jawahar Nagar here.

Thakur said the abrogation of Article 370 provisions of the Constitution, which accorded special status to Jammu and Kashmir, had brought about many positive changes and put an end to stone pelting in Kashmir.

“There used to be stone pelting during encounters that has stopped. There used to be ISIS flag, Pakistani flag…that has stopped. That is what we are celebrating,” he added.

On some political parties in Kashmir observing ‘Black Day’ on Wednesday, Thakur said they were sympathisers of the ISIS.

“Those who are in love with black are sympathisers of ISIS…. They should think what they are supporting,” he said.

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