15th August – Kashmir has spoken loudly
On this day, every year, citizens of the country celebrate the Independence Day with patriotic zeal and enthusiasm. While official functions are held all over the country with country’s Prime Minister unfurling the National Flag at historic Lal Qilla, the citizenry too joins the celebrations on its own. This has been happening during past 76 years and happened in the 77th year also. However, what makes this Independence Day unique is the how the day was celebrated by the people of Kashmir, a place that unfortunately had been in news for last three decades for all bad reasons. Prior to August 05, 2019, separatist groups would force people to observe shutdown on the eve of Independence Day, sponsor bandhs and stone pelting all over. To counter separatists, the government would impose restrictions, suspend internet and thus life would be thrown out of gears. The event would go largely unnoticed and the Independence Day functions would be attended by a few officials alone. But this year, it was not so.
Ahead of Independence Day, Tiranga Rallies were carried out in length and breadth of Kashmir Valley. Students, Youth Clubs, Civil Society members took to streets in cities, towns and villages, waving tri-colour and asserting their identity as Indian nationals like their counterparts in rest of the country. Massive rallies were organised all over with massive participation. Unlike past, there was no tension in the air ahead of August 15 and even on August 14, the life was normal and people were busy hoisting national flags on their homes and business establishments. August 14, the independence day of neighbouring country used to be nightmare for the populace here as separatists would do everything and anything to create trouble and disturb law and order. This year it was no such thing instead the tri-colour was fluttering all over with smiles not tension on the faces of the people.
The climax was the main day. While hundreds assembled at Srinagar’s Lal Chowk with Tirangas to celebrate the Independence Day, long queues were witnessed outside Bakshi Stadium where the main function was held and Lt. Governor, Manoj Sinha unfurled the national flag. Thousands participated in the event as the LG administration had thrown out an open invitationto all doing away with the past practice of issuing special passes to invitees. The public reciprocated with the same spirit and joined the function whole heartedly.
The UT administration, under the leadership of Manoj Sinha deserves applaud for creating an atmosphere free of fear and thus convincing the public to have faith in the system. Sense of security is what ensured the massive participation of people in Tiranga Rallies and the Independence Day functions in entire Kashmir Valley.
That said, Kashmiris and Kashmir has spoken and spoken loudly. The message is very clear – there is no scope or space for violence and terrorism. People want peace, prosperity and development and thus have decided not fall prey to the nefarious propaganda and designs of those who would run their enterprises in the name of “Kashmir Conflict.”