SRINAGAR: J&K spent the first anniversary of the nullification of its special status on Wednesday as “just another day” of strictly regulated civilian movement, a terror scare here, a political protest there, celebrations in BJP offices and an explosion of pent-up sentiments on social media.
The uneasy calm amid heavy deployment of police and CRPF units across the Valley was broken only by two grenades hurled at security forces at Bon Bazar in south Kashmir’s Shopian within hours of each other. While the blasts didn’t do any damage, BJP’s day of triumph in Kashmir was somewhat marred by the public resignation of three local party functionaries at Qazigund in Kulgam to protest the terror attack on Tuesday in which a sarpanch was critically injured.
In a joint video-recorded statement that has since been widely shared, Subzar Ahmad Paddar, Nisar Ahmad Wani and Ashiq Hussain Palla said, “We have to work hard for a livelihood and can no longer spare time for the activities of BJP. From today, we have nothing to do with BJP. We seek forgiveness if we have hurt anyone, intentionally or unintentionally.”
Elsewhere in the Valley, groups of BJP workers commemorated the nullification of articles 370 and 35A exactly a year ago with some sloganeering and dancing within their offices. Two women presumed to be BJP members — one in Anantnag and the other in Ganderbal — were spotted hoisting the Tricolour in the central business districts of either headquarters town.
For the J&K administration, the focus was on foiling the proposed meeting of mainstream political functionaries at Srinagar MP and former CM Farooq Abdullah’s Gupkar Road residence. The already fortified high-security zone was out of bounds for anyone from outside, with reels of concertina wire used as barricades every few hundred metres.
Almost a dozen political functionaries were put under temporary house arrest, including J&K People’s Conference chief Sajad Lone, who had been freed from preventive detention just five days short of a year last Friday.
chief Farooq said, “The BJP government claims a political process has started in Kashmir, but not a single leader was allowed to reach my residence for the meeting.”
Incarcerated former CM and
chief Mehbooba Mufti’s daughter Iltija Mufti, who manages her mother’s Twitter handle, posted, “A year ago, we witnessed how a majoritarian govt mutilated & robbed J&K in broad daylight. Seasons may have changed but the betrayal will never be forgiven or forgotten. Prolonged enforced silence won’t suppress emotions forever.”
Sharing pictures of barricaded Gupkar Road on Twitter, NC vice-president and former CM Omar Abdullah said, “One year on, this is Gupkar Road today – police vehicles opposite our gates, concertina wire strung across the road at regular intervals & no vehicles allowed. My father had called a meeting of leaders of mainstream parties to deliberate on the current situation.”
In another tweet accompanying pictures of BJP workers celebrating, Omar said, “BJP displaying its hypocrisy. They can gather & celebrate. The rest of us can’t even meet to discuss what’s happening in J&K.”
PDP spokesperson Waheed-Ur-Rehman issued a statement on behalf of the party, describing the past year as one of “sadness and silence”.
“There’s a sense of defeat and absence of politics, rights and democracy. The government justified its decision (to remove J&K’s special status under Article 370) by saying it would bring peace and development. We don’t see integration, peace, development or anything promised that has been achieved.”
Lone’s People’s Conference termed J&K’s special status being removed “a travesty of justice that strikes at the very root of the state’s constitutional relationship with the Union and a blow to the collective psyche of the Kashmiris, robbing them of their sense of identity and dignity”.
On Monday, Srinagar district magistrate Shahid Iqbal Choudhary had announced a two-day curfew starting Tuesday as a precautionary measure for the first anniversary of the Centre’s August 5 move in Parliament that split the erstwhile state of J&K into two Union Territories. The prohibitory order was revoked on Tuesday evening in the face of public criticism, but curfew-like restrictions officially remained in place in the name of a Covid-induced lockdown.
A senior official of the administration had told TOI on Tuesday that the anniversary would be “just another day in the Union Territory”. Barring the Mirwaiz-led Hurriyat Conference, no separatist group gave any strike call or organised any protest during the day. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq termed the “August 5, 2019, decision” by the Centre “the most sordid chapter in the saga of J&K”.