JEHANGIR ALI | 6 NOVEMBER, 2015
Kashmir Turns Into a Ghost State Ahead of PM Modi’s Visit
Normal for Kashmir
SRINAGAR: Curfew-like restrictions have been imposed in parts of Kashmir Valley with authorities imposing ban on public movement and security deployment heightened on the National Highway ahead of the Prime Minister's Narendra Modi's visit on Saturday.
The Sher-e-Kashmir Cricket Stadium in Srinagar's Sonawar locality, where Modi is scheduled to address his first rally after the BJP came into power in J&K, has been converted into a fortress with authorities setting up impenetrable security check points and detaining hundreds of separatist leaders and activists from across the state.
Former chief minister Omar Abdullah Friday alleged that the state government is using security personnel to bolster the numbers in Modi's rally. “Colleagues tell me that their JK police guard has been drastically scaled down & the personnel ordered to participate in the 7th Nov rally (of the Prime Minister),” Omar tweeted.
“Similar instructions given to SPOs, Anganwari workers & daily wagers to make up the numbers for PM’s rally because PDP workers reluctant. How else will they make up the numbers & produce a gathering for the cameras & channels?”
In another tweet, Omar said it was “shameless” on part of the government to use state apparatus for Modi’s rally. “Just saw State Govt employees in an AMBULANCE tying up banners welcoming the PM on behalf of the state Health Minister. #Shameless,” he added.
Veteran Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Geelani has exhorted people to march towards the Tourist Reception Centre in Srinagar on Saturday and participate in the "Million March" called in protest against Modi's visit. The call for the march has been supported by all Hurriyat factions and some civil society groups.
To foil the march, authorities have detained all top Hurriyat leaders including Geelani, moderate Hurriyat chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and JKNF's Nayeem Khan who have been put into solitary confinement even as Pakistan Saturday deplored the crackdown on Hurriyat as "stifling the voices of Kashmiris."
The "repressive" crackdown has been extended to the virtual space as well with the authorities closely monitoring the buzz about Modi's visit and the Hurriyat's "Million March" on social networking sites. Source said many people were let off without charges following their "controversial" posts on Facebook and Twitter.
There is a heavy deployment of security paraphernalia in the capital Srinagar where most of the roads are deserted, educational institutions closed and business establishments shut. At many places, large hoardings have come up alongside barren roads welcoming the Prime Minister to the state.
Train services have been suspended in the Valley and the National Highway will be shut on Saturday as a preemptive measures to thwart any untoward incident. A grenade attack by suspected militants in Srinagar's Khanyar locality last evening injured 13 CRPF personnel, all of whom have been declared out of danger.
During his visit, the Prime Minister is expected to announce the financial package for starting the rehabilitation process in J&K where private and public infrastructure was wrecked in last year's flood. Speculations are also rife within the PDP, the BJP's alliance partner in J&K, that Modi might also extend an invitation of talks to separatists leaders.
The Prime Minister will inaugurate Baglihar PhaseII power project at Ramban on Jammu-Srinagar national highway, address a public rally at Sher-e-Kashmir Cricket Stadium and also lay foundation stone for four-laning of Jammu-Srinagar national highway from Udhampur to Ramban.