A 15-year-old girl from Ludhiana, who had publicly vowed to hoist the national flag at Srinagar’s Lal Chowk on August 15, was on Sunday turned back by authorities from Srinagar International Airport.
Police sources at the airport told HT that Jhanvi Behal accompanied by almost 35 others had arrived at the airport but all of them were asked to return back in the same flight that they came. Sources said the step was taken considering the security situation in the Valley.
Days after the security situation deteriorated in Kashmir after Hizb-ul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed in an encounter on July 8, Behal had given a media statement expressing her intention to unfurl the national flag at Lal Chowk.
“I would hoist the Tricolour at Lal Chowk in Srinagar on August 15 because that is a place where the national flag was insulted. I challenge all those, including the separatists and the Pakistanis, to stop me if they can,” she had said.
Kashmir’s joint separatist leadership has called for a civil curfew and black day on August 15 opposing all celebrations of India’s Independence Day while asking people to pray for the stability of Pakistan on August 14, the day the neighbouring country celebrates independence from British rule.
The strong boycott statement and the overall situation in the Valley has raised apprehensions regarding large-scale protests and attempts to disrupt the August 15 celebrations. But, Kashmir’s security establishment says it is prepared to tackle any eventuality feared during the I-Day celebrations.
Strict curfew and restrictions are put in place across Kashmir for Monday and internet services, including broadband, are snapped.
Behal had shot into limelight earlier this year by challenging JNU student leader Kanhaiya Kumar to a debate on nationalism and freedom of speech soon after a crisis had unfolded at the university.