Separatists planning to unfurl Pak flags at over 200 places in Valley on Aug 14
Galvanised iron pipes installed as flag posts at
several junctions; boat rally carried out in Anantnag
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
SRINAGAR: For the first time in the last 26 years of the separatist movement, preparations are underway throughout Kashmir valley to celebrate Pakistan’s Independence Day on August 14 with hoisting of that country’s national flag in all the major towns and district headquarters.
The 34-day-long turbulence, triggered by Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani’s death in an encounter on July 8, has reduced movement of Police and security forces to only the capital city and district headquarters besides some well-fortified towns. Consequently, the demonstrators have occupied all the roads including the strategic Srinagar-Jammu highway, shouting pro-Pakistan, pro-Azadi and anti-India slogans and waving the Pakistani flags.
At several places such rallies are confronted by Police and security forces wherever they fear arson and attempts by unruly crowds to burn down the public properties or Police installations. However, the authorities have not disturbed current series of mass marches in South Kashmir even as a big clash took place in Damhal Hanjipora area of Kulgam district last week. On Tuesday and Wednesday, authorities allowed such rallies at Gulzarpora and Dadsar in Pulwama district.
Reports from Anantnag on Wednesday said that hundreds of people carried out a boat rally on the river Jhelum from Urnhall to Pazalpora, close to Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s hometown of Bijbehara. While waving Pakistani national flags and shouting pro-Pakistan, pro-Azadi and anti-India slogans, participants dispersed peacefully as Police and security forces did not confront the rally.
According to reports available with the Government, separatists have planned to celebrate Pakistan’s Independence Day in a big way on August 14 while as they have, as usual, called upon the Kashmiris to observe the Indian Independence Day as ‘Black Day’ [Yaum-e-Siah] on August 15. Officials said they had received reports that Pakistani flags could be unfurled by the separatists, including armed militants, at over 200 places in the Valley.
Informed sources told STATE TIMES that in the last three days, separatists installed GI pipes, tucked in cement concrete, as flag posts at different junctions with the plan of hoisting the Pakistani national flag in a ceremonial way. Local students and residents are being mobilised to participate in such ceremonies without fear of a crackdown as Police and security forces have been restricted to the venues of the August 15th Independence Day ceremonial parades. According to these reports, separatist leaders and militant commanders at several places could address public gatherings and pay tributes to slain militants and over 50 civilians killed in the last 5 weeks of the turmoil. Pakistani anthem could be played on the public address system.
Currently such songs are being played on loudspeakers of the community mosques on the call of separatist leaders Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik after the evening prayers in certain areas every day.
Even as Government officials have been directed by Divisional Commissioner Baseer Khan to attend the Indian I-Day ceremonies without default on August 15, sources said that no school children or cultural groups had been arranged for the ceremonies till late on Thursday. Authorities have arranged helicopters for ferrying Ministers for hoisting of the Tricolour at district headquarters and some major towns in the Valley on Monday.
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti is scheduled to take salute and unfurl the Tricolour at Bakhshi Stadium. Separatist and militant groups have asked the people to stay away from all Indian I-Day functions on August 15. They have asked the parents not to send children to participate in any ceremonial parade or cultural programme.