The overwhelming participation of Kashmiri people in the 76th Independence Day celebrations has sent a clear message to the traditional leaders and politicians: that they have boarded the wagon of peace, prosperity, and development.
By hoisting the Tricolour atop their homes to celebrate ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’, the people of Kashmir exhibited their commitment towards building a “Naya Jammu and Kashmir”.
The Tricolour flying high across Kashmir on the 76th Independence Day was a befitting reply to leaders like former J&K chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, who had predicted that if Article 370 was abrogated, no one would be left in the Valley to hold the National Flag. The huge participation of people in the ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ campaign made it clear that the people of Kashmir endorse the idea of India and the so-called leaders, who claimed to be their “messiahs”, were nothing more than actors who staged dramas for 70 years to remain in power. They never allowed the common man in Kashmir to develop a personal relationship with the Tricolour. They kept him away from the National Flag as well as nationalism.
The leaders, who ruled J&K for seven decades, never made an attempt to inculcate the feeling of nationalism and patriotism in the hearts of the people as they knew that once the masses become aware of their rights and duties the anti-India bogey would be rendered irrelevant.
While participating in Independence and Republic Day celebrations they used to pretend that they were doing it under compulsion, but in New Delhi, they used to claim that they were the only people who could represent the idea of India in Kashmir. In Kashmir, they would cleverly publicise the celebrations of occasions like July 13 as “Martyrs’ Day” and used to make a beeline at the Naqashband Sahib graveyard. They used to ensure that they visited the graveyard and their presence got wide publicity. By doing so they kept the feeling of separatism and secessionism alive.
The death and birth anniversaries of National Conference founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah were observed to make people remember the slogan of plebiscite that was raised by the late leader. In a nutshell, politics in Kashmir was all about theatrics. It revolved around hollow slogans and irrelevant issues.
After Narendra Modi took over as the Prime Minister of India in 2014, he ensured that such dramas in Kashmir ended. Soon after taking over the reins of the country PM Modi and his team worked out a comprehensive plan to integrate J&K completely with the Union of India. The contours were worked out during the first five years of PM Modi’s rule.
After the BJP returned to power in 2019 with a thumping majority, the job to integrate J&K with the Union of India was assigned to Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who within a few months finalised the modalities to scrap Article 370. He put an end to the hegemony of the politicians, who had taken J&K hostage for 70 years.
The Home Minister was aware that the so-called leaders of Kashmir were nothing more than paper tigers, who had won elections due to boycott politics and they didn’t enjoy any support. His calculations were proven correct as no one came out to seek the release of these leaders when they were arrested after the abrogation of Article 370 on August 5, 2019.
On the 76th Independence Day this year, the Tiranga flew high across the Union Territory. People exhibited their love for the country by hoisting the National Flag atop their homes. They participated in the Tiranga rallies and related events that were organised to celebrate Azadi ka Mahotsav.
Three years after the abrogation of Article 370, J&K stands completely integrated with the idea of India. Power brokers and political artists have lost their addresses. They are making desperate attempts to become relevant. They are trying to sell “old wine in a new bottle” by telling the people that they will get everything back but the fact of the matter is that no one in J&K wants anything back. People have endorsed the decision of the PM Modi-led dispensation to end the 70-year-long status quo. They have understood that they were misled and misguided by their leaders just for the sake of power.
J&K has changed and has changed for good. The credit for the change goes to PM Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah.
The writer is a senior journalist, political activist and secretary general of the International Centre for Peace Studies (ICPS). He can be reached at email@example.com. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent the stand of this publication.