FRAGRANCE OF IDEAS
The nation celebrated its 75th Independence Day throughout with the traditional gaiety, festivities, official patronage and people's participation. The Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir & Ladakh also celebrated the day with great enthusiasm. However, celebrations in the Kashmir valley exhibited a special flavour and gleeful atmosphere this time around.
This author is witness to the Independence Day celebrations this time as he was on a week-long tour of the valley on the occasion. In fact I have the privilege to be a part of the celebrations of this important day in the valley of Kashmir right from my childhood days when it used to be a great fanfare event in our schools, colleges, vicinity, government institutions & buildings and even in places of worship. This time, however, I am reminded of those pretty days. Kashmir valley wore altogether a different look this time two days ahead of the actual day of celebrations.
As a first major development, there were no internet, mobile or communication restrictions throughout the Kashmir valley, after a very long time. Traffic movement was also normal on all roads barring a few roads around the main event celebrations Stadium near the Circuit House where the LG of JKUT, Manoj Sinha hoisted the Tricolour. There is a dire need to complete the renovation work in the famous Bakshi Stadium in Srinagar so that such big functions are organised in the traditional stadium with the grandeur and greatness of the day. It was observed that despite invitations circulated by the UT administration to the mainstream political parties, there were less representations of them in the programme excepting those of BJP in the valley.
The government relaxed certain Covid19 restrictions for a couple of days in order to allow gatherings on the occasion. It also used anti-drone technology at all sensitive places in order to make it sure that nothing untoward happens. Security as usual was beefed up throughout the UT. The Clock Tower in Srinagar's Lal Chowk was illuminated in colours of the Indian flag on the eve of the Independence Day. A special programme was organised by the citizens near the Tower on 15th August evening in which earthen lamps were kindled, supported by the Army band playing the music of 'Sarey Jahan se Acha Hindusthan Hamara......!'
A big national flag, the Tiranga, on the highest mast of 100 feet was hoisted upon the Hari Parbat Fort, for the first time in history, in the Downtown Srinagar. National flag was also hoisted on the Shankeracharya Hill near the famous Dal Lake. SMC-Srinagar Municipal Corporation Mayor hoisted the National Flag at the Corporation office on Sunday morning and also congratulated the Jammu and Kashmir Police for getting 257 Gallantry Medals this year, its highest-ever tally.
For the first time in its history, J&K Police personnel bagged Ashok, Kirti and Shaurya Chakras together, apart from the President’s Police Medal for Gallantry and 257 other gallantry medals, announced on the eve of Independence Day. J&K Lt. Governor Manoj Sinha commended the UT police for being on the forefront of the fight against terrorism and insurgency, saying that he was proud of the bravery and sacrifices made by J&K Police in defending the nation’s sovereignty. “Ashok Chakra, Kirti Chakra, Shaurya Chakra and 257 police gallantry medals to JKP at the forefront of fight against terrorism is commendable,’’ Sinha said.
Some political parties held programmes of flag hoisting in their headquarters and offices in the valley. Prominent among those are BJP and Congress. But there was no news suggesting that such functions were also organised by other political parties, mainly NC, PDP and sundry in their offices in the valley. Moreover, it remains a question unanswered as to why the other so-called mainstream political parties didn't organise such flag hoisting functions in their offices in the valley.
There was a vedio clip of the flag hoisting ceremonies in the valley that had gone viral on the social media, for resons. It is about the father of the slain militant Burhan Wani hoisting the National Flag at a school in Pulwama, South Kashmir. Muzaffar Wani, a teacher by profession, hoisted the National Flag in the premises of the Government Girls Higher Secondary School in Tral area of Pulwama district on Sunday. This is a major shift of political priorities, undoubtedly.
It is again for the first time in Jammu and Kashmir that every government school hoisted the tricolour on Independence Day as directed by the administration. The schools also uploaded video clips and photographs of the event on the social media. Kashmir valley didn't lag behind in this connection and took lead at several places. Some 23,000 schools hoisted the Tricolour on the occasion of Independence Day in the UT including Kashmir valley. All principals and heads of the institutions were asked to lead the singing of the national anthem and upload a clipping of the same on a national website.
A number of places of worship in the valley also organised flag hoisting ceremonies in their complexes in the valley. Besides organising the flaghoisting, some cultural events were also organised by them followed by distribution of sweets, halwa and kheer. Functions were organised by various government departments in their offices at provincial, district and tehsil levels. The local bodies including Municipal offices and the Panchayats, BDCs and DDCs were seen very active this time in connection with the celebrations of the event in the valley. As a part of its celebration of 75 years of India’s independence, the Army hoisted the National Flag atop a 100-feet tall pole in Gulmarg on August 10, five days before the Independence Day. A colourful Rangoli depicting a few facets of the day was decorated in the Srinagar Airport.
There was greater enthusiasm in the Universities throughout the valley. Central University-Kashmir's staff singing the national anthem also went viral on the social media. Some private organisations and groups of citizens hoisted the flag at various places in the valley thereby replying, amply, all those politicians who contested only two years back the hoisting of Tricolour if Article 370 and 35A were lifted. It was a great occasion to see the old Zero Bridge on river Jehlum in Rajbag-Srinagar illuminated in the three colours of the flag.
In the post 5 August 2019 scenario, there is no debate on the Article 370 and 35A or the seperate constitution of J&K in the valley. Most of the people in the valley are conscious of the realities that there was no chance of any reversal to the old format unlike some politicians. 'These politicians' seem to have lost their decades old separatist political agenda. The PM Modi's reference to the Delimitation and consequent Assembly elections in the UT of J&K in his Independence Day speech from the rampart of the Red Fort is a reassurance of the future plan of action. The Delimitation is supposed to grant rights of political representation to the otherwise non-representated sections of society notably among them are the displaced Kashmiri Pandits, the indegenous people of Kashmir.
My journey on 16th August from Manigam in District Ganderbal via areas through Batchpora-Soura and Downtown including Eidgah, Safakadal, Chatabal, Karannagar and Batmaloo brought some very important facts to light. While there was a great economic activity visible on all streets and bazaars, people were seen walking freely and without any restrictions. Vehicular traffic was also plying normally. Among the positive things also included cycling by girls on roads and scooter & car driving by young ladies at many places. Regular dresses are the order of the day. Fearlessness on the faces of the general public on the occasion of the Independence Day could also be observed.
There are a number of positive changes throughout in the valley signaling more to come forth post August-2019 events. This Independence Day brings hope and confidence that the declared "Amrit Mahoutsav of Aazadi" by the government for the next 75 weeks will usher a new era of happiness, peace and normalcy beyond imagination. "Modi hai to mumkin hai" is the new slogan that has caught the imagination of the people in general and the Kashmir valley follows suit.....!
(Author is Senior BJP & KP Leader, Incharge: J&K BJP Political Feedback Deptt, Author & Columnist. Feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org)