JEHANGIR ALI | 26 JANUARY, 2018
Republic Day LockDown in Kashmir, Militants Video Goes Viral
‘Black Day’ Says Hurriyat
SRINAGAR: Kashmir Valley has been put under a security lockdown ahead of the 69th Republic Day celebrations with mobile internet suspended indefinitely amid the Hurriyat Conference's appeal to people to mark January 26 as 'Black Day' and boycott all functions scheduled by the state government.
“We appeal to the people to observe 26th January as a black day and boycott all celebrations,” the Hurriyat trio of Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik said in statement today.
The leaders said the Hurriyat has “no animosity with India or its people and they have every right to celebrate republican (sic) day within its states but despite their being rhetoric about democracy they have no ethical or constitutional right to celebrate this in Jammu and Kashmir as our democratic rights have been smashed and trampled,” they said.
The boycott appeal by the Hurriyat comes as security forces have clamped down curfew-like restrictions in parts of Kashmir Valley, including the summer capital Srinagar, to ensure incident free celebrations. Hundreds of checkpoints have been set up along the national highway and interior roads where commuters are frisked.
“I was stopped at three places by police who asked for papers and checked the car. It’s traumatizing to see thousands of police and paramilitary forces out on the streets, as if a war has broken out. While India is celebrating the day, Kashmir has been turned into a prison,” Majid Niazi, an engineer and a resident of Srinagar’s Nowgam locality, said.
In the run up to the R-Day celebrations, militants have also threatened to carry out attacks on official functions, warning people to stay away. In a video that has gone viral on social media in Kashmir, a group of suspected militants are seen warning the principal of Girls Higher Secondary School in South Kashmir’s Pulwama against “forcing” the students of his school to “dance” in front of officials.
“I have committed a mistake and I apologize for it. But I am also helpless. I got letters from higher-ups and verbal instructions (to ensure that girls participate in the official function at Pulwama). Let this job go to hell,” the unidentified principal tells the militants, apparently under duress. The militants later threaten the principal to “mend your ways”, warning that the houses of those who participate in such functions will be burnt down.
In her message on R-Day, chief minister Mehbooba Mufti said dialogue is the only means to sort out issues and end the “culture of violence”, “I hope that people from all shades of opinion in Jammu & Kashmir would join the dialogue process initiated in the State. An official spokesperson said Mehbooba expressed happiness that “Centre, agreeing to her suggestion, appointed Dineshwar Sharma as the interlocutor for the State”.
Security forces are on a high alert after a message circulated from the office of Inspector General of Police (Kashmir), Munir Khan, to all district police heads and chief of security wing in Kashmir regarding “a strong input” on an “18-year-old non-Kashmiri woman suicide bomber” who might strike “near or inside the Republic Day parade in Kashmir”.
“All are directed to please ensure that frisking of ladies at the (venues) is done meticulously and with utmost caution so as to thwart the designs of anti-national elements,” reads the message circulated on Wednesday. According to the letter, the suspect is believed to have already arrived in the Valley.
Ahead of the celebrations, the government directed all its employees to attend the official functions that will be held in Srinagar's Sher-e-Kashmir Cricket Stadium for the first time, since the main venue, Bakshi Stadium, is undergoing renovation. Similar functions will be held at district headquarters of the Valley which have been sealed by forces to avoid any untoward incident.