Three years after Article 370 was diluted in Jammu and Kashmir, India is celebrating 75 years of Independence and in the hinterlands of Kashmir the ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ campaign is as much a rage as elsewhere in the country.
Youths, elders, children and women — pictures of all these hands holding the Tricolour are pouring in from every corner of Kashmir.
These pictures are a slap on the face of separatist leaders such as Mehbooba Mufti, who had once said that if Article 370 is diluted in the state, nobody will hold the Tricolour in their hand.
The ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ campaign is touching its pinnacle all over the country. The celebration of 75 years of Independence will happen on August 15, but the Tricolour is seen all around. From houses to roads, offices to malls, markets to hospitals, people have lapped up the call of Har Ghar Tiranga given by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Women, children, youth all are seen moving around in groups with the Tricolour in their hands, taking selfies with it and posting it on social media and replacing their photo in DP with the Tricolour. The Tricolour fever is at its peak and so is the Har Ghar Tiranga campaign in Kashmir.
The pictures and videos emerging from Jammu and Kashmir are most heartening. More than Jammu, the Kashmir Valley, where the flags were burnt at one point, is at the centre of all action with the Tricolours seen flying high in villages and cities.
Be it the Tricolour rally on shikaras in the famous Dal Lake in Srinagar or Bandipora, Anantnag, Kupwara or Tral – the campaign has been wholeheartedly adopted by the people in the Valley.
At some places, people are seen holding rallies with the Tricolour, while at other places, they are seen saluting it and singing the National Anthem. Competitions to sing the National Anthem are organised and students in schools and colleges are seen participating with fanfare.
In Kashmir, the National Anthem is called Qaumi Tarana. Be it girls studying in schools or burqa-clad elderly women, all are seen holding the Tricolour, participating in the rallies with much alacrity and singing the National Anthem.
Known as the centre of the separatist movement, the Kashmir University is also waving the Tricolour. The Kashmir University, which was once the centre of the separatist movement, has also welcomed the Tricolour. There was a time when a group of people here were less interested in study and more in separatist-terrorist activities.
THE LONG JOURNEY
From not being able to sing the anthem two years ago to the competitions today, the Valley has come a long way.
Five years ago, when it was speculated that Article 370 may go, Mehbooba Mufti had given the most irresponsible statement. On July 29, 2017, Mehbooba had said that “if Article 370 is diluted in the state, nobody will hold the Tricolour in their hands in Jammu and Kashmir”.
At that time, she was the chief minister of the state. What made the statement was more shameful was Mehbooba’s father Mufti Mohammed Sayeed was the Home Minister in the Centre before he became the chief minister of the state.
Worsening matters was the statement she gave after Article 370 was diluted. She said that she “will not hoist the Tricolour until Article 370 is restored”.
After the Hurriyat lost all its sheen in the state, Mehbooba projected herself as the number one separatist leader of the state and she is still not ashamed of the statement she gave two years ago.
The Tricolour is an integral part of the same Constitution she had taken her oath on when she became the chief minister of the state.
The common people of Kashmir are teasing Mehbooba, and showing her her place by showing their respect to the Tricolour and National Anthem.
Even the gate of the Hurriyat, whose place she is eager to occupy, had Tricolour on it, with the image going viral.
The world is watching Kashmir which is painted in the Tricolour. It is three years since Article 370 was diluted in the state and the state is celebrating 75 year of India’s Independence with fervour. The whole world will be surprised to see the pictures emerging from Kashmir as in the past they have had the habit of looking at the state keeping Pakistan in their mind. The Kashmiris thronging the streets of Kashmir with Tricolour in their hands may compel the world to change the way they looked at them. Kashmiri youth are getting mainstreamed, leaving separatism aside. In the past two years, there have been great changes in the mindset of youth of Kashmir.
They are thinking about employment, happiness and a better tomorrow and not about Pak-sponsored terrorism. There are still one or two who have not found their way, but things are not conducive for them now.
The Dal Lake which used to be the den of terrorists is now thronged by tourists from all over the world. Local youths are found making merry there in the wind of development and zero tolerance for terrorism.
This has happened only due to the policies of the Narendra Modi government at the Centre and the Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir Manoj Sinha, who is implementing those policies on ground. These news items from the Kashmir Valley will be enough to prove it.
Sinha distributed Tricolour to the officials of the Raj Bhavan in Srinagar to make the Har Ghar Tiranga campaign a grand success, and as part of the celebration of 75 years of Independence, he inaugurated 25 DDC and BDC buildings. He also inaugurated 1,000 Amrit Sarovars developed in Jammu and Kashmir. Not only this, he launched 75 ‘Home Stays’ to give impetus to tourism.
Terrorists and their supporters are now getting marginalised. Among the development, another news gave a glimpse of another aspect of the administration. In keeping with the policy to ensure development with ‘zero tolerance’ for terrorism, services of four government officials who had connections with terrorism were terminated. One of these is Assabah Arzoomand Khan, famous as Farukh Ahmad Dar alias Bitta Karate’s wife. Karate’s story of brutality and cruelty people has already been seen in the film ‘Kashmir Files’. Khan was selected in Jammu-Kashmir Administrative Services in 2011 and later she married Karate and got herself involved in terror-related activities.
Khan managed to get a job in Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agriculture Science and Technology in 2003 with the help of some officials who remained in the services till 2007, but she wouldn’t report to work most of the times and was involved in separatist activities. Khan was collecting funds for terrorist organisation JKLF in Germany, UK, Sri Lanka and Thailand. After an inquiry, she was removed from her post in 2007, but four years later, she was back after clearing the JKAS examinations in 2011 and managed to become an officer. Khan was investigated and finally Sinha terminated her services. Three more sympathisers of terrorists were shown the door.
Three more government officers have been removed from their posts along with her. Two of these are a scientist and teacher working in Kashmir University, Muhit Ahamed Bhat and Majid Hasan Qadri, while the fourth is Sayed Abdul Mueed, who worked as manager in the Jammu-Kashmir Entrepreneur Development Institution.
Like Khan, these three were considered close to terrorists and allegedly helped them.
Sinha has terminated their services under Article 311 of the Indian Constitution.
FAST-TRACKING SYSTEM CLEAN-UP
There are huge number of terrorists and their sympathisers working in the Jammu-Kashmir administration. In the past four decades, they have managed to sneak into the system with the help of political parties and government officials. Under the leadership of Sinha, the administration is easing out such people from the government after conducting due investigation.
It will take time to clean the system, but Sinha is taking this task seriously.
The environment of Kashmir has changed in the past two years. Zero tolerance for terrorism and seriousness shown towards development are the two important reasons why Kashmir is a changed place today. Personal interests of corrupt politicians have ruined the state, throwing it into a bottomless pit of terrorism and corruption. Now after the dilution of Article 370, the situation is easing and development is gathering steam. It is for all to see.
Now, people do not pay heed to the call of separatism and instead of joining stone-pelting, they are now marching on the path of development, holding the Tricolour in their hands fearlessly.
People are aware of the benefits this change has brought to them.
This is the reason that Tricolour is being unfurled in every nook and cranny in the state – from Dal lake to villages and cities.
The unfurling of Tricolours will reach a crescendo on August 15, when not only Srinagar, but every street will see thousands marching with the flag in their hands and will sing the National Anthem.
After all, it is this Tricolour which has made all the difference and brought back colour in their lives.