‘Identity of J&K people not at stake’, says governor Satya Pal Malik
In Srinagar, governor Satya Pal Malik told the audience at the Sher-i-Kashmir Cricket Stadium that their identity won’t get diluted because Article 370, which gave special status to Jammu & Kashmir, had been revoked.Updated: Aug 15, 2019 23:04 IST
Two regions of strife-torn Jammu & Kashmir presented contrasting pictures of independence Day celebrations on Thursday with deserted streets and a communications blackout in the Valley and joyous singing and exchange of sweets in Jammu.
In Srinagar, governor Satya Pal Malik told the audience at the Sher-i-Kashmir Cricket Stadium that their identity won’t get diluted because Article 370, which gave special status to Jammu & Kashmir, had been revoked.
“Indian constitution allows many local identities to flourish. If one travels from Kashmir to Kanyakumari , one finds a series of languages, cultures, religions and societies. Nobody should be worried that their identity will get finished by the measures of central government,” Malik said.
Officials, security forces, government employees and a handful of people were present in the stadium.National Security Adviser Ajit Doval was among the attendees
Security forces imposed restrictions on the movement of people early morning and sealed off large sections of the city with concertina wires.
“I wanted to go Hyderpora for condoling the death of a relative but the security forces didn’t allow me to go,” said Noor Mohammad, a resident of the Downtown area in Srinagar.
In Jammu, the mood was upbeat. People were seen dancing to the tunes of patriotic songs and exchanging sweets and pleasantries .
Showkat Ali, 42, from the Gujjar community, said, “Though India got independence on August 15, 1947, we got independence on August 5, 2019. We are really free today from the clutches of Kashmiri leaders.”
Gharu Bhatti, a Balmiki community leader, said, “We were reduced to third grade citizens in this state. You can see how our children, women and men are celebrating the festival. Never before we had seen such smiles on their faces.”
Celebrations were also held in districts adjoining the international border. Young men with the Tricolour took out a bike rally close to the border.
Adviser to the governor, Farooq Ahmed Khan, unfurled the national flag at Mini Stadium in Jammu city.
He underlined the need for maintaining sustained peace and tranquillity to realise the goals of growth and development. “Recent changes made by the union government have opened a new vista of development for the people of Jammu, Kashmir, Kargil and Ladakh. A long pending demand of the people of Ladakh has also been fulfilled,” he said.
Kashmir has been under lockdown since August 5 after the union government revoked Article 370 and bifurcated the state it into two Union Territories- Jammu & Kashmir with a legislative assembly and Ladakh without one.
Across Kashmir, road blocks and concertina wires have restricted the movement of people. Mobile, landlines and internet facilities are suspended for the past 11 days. There have been occasional stints of relaxation since last Saturday and sporadic protests.
The move has triggered anger and concern about Kashmir losing its identity and of a demographic change in the Muslim-majority Valley.
Malik attempted to dissuade those concerns and said the new system will allow all the local languages of Kashmir to flourish.
“ … The occasion can be used to promote the state’s cultures, values and languages. In the new system, there is opportunity to succeed for Kashmiri, Dogri, Gojri, Pahari, Balti, Sheena languages. Those who are not unrepresented will get representation,” he said.
The governor also claimed that militant groups had been subdued. “We have zero tolerance towards terrorists and our security forces are active against them. The terrorists, who on the orders of their bosses across the LoC would attack security forces, have accepted their defeat. There has been a drop in terrorist recruitments.”