Kashmir and India’s Independence Day

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, at the Indian Independence day parade in Srinagar.

By Sheikh Usman

Kashmiri’s have a different way of celebrating India’s Independence Day. This way has changed from time to time and generation to generation. But one thing has always remained common, that is, to observe this day as Black Day in Kashmir with a strike call from the separatist groups for decades. Modes of protest and showing resentment toward India’s independence has somewhat changed. From militant strikes in 90s to online activism in present times, Kashmir’s have always been upfront to make sure that this day be celebrated as a black day.

India too has changed its mechanism to curb the voices of Kashmiri’s, crackdowns in 90’s and jamming of mobiles and internet during present times apart from the strict curfew. India’s I-Day preparations in Kashmir are in fact visible a few days before. The security is beefed up in everywhere in Kashmir. Free movement of ordinary Kashmiris is restricted so that the world’s “largest democracy” celebrates its day of freedom. Past few days have been tough for Kashmiris – undergoing frisking even during prayer times, getting their vehicles checked now and then with security officials making students open up bags to make sure that there are no bombs but books and during night to make sure that patients are ferried and not terrorists.

Speaking of online activism which kick started a few days before August 15, events and updates swarmed Kashmiri facebook pages. While the regular updates like to observe this day as black day and anti-India and pro-Kashmir were common, funny status, cartoons and troll pictures mocking India’s stand on Kashmir were new form of online protest.

This day’s entry in Kashmir is evident with certain things that the day has arrived. When you wake up and check your phone you will see that the network is gone. There is dead silence outside. Internet connections are not working and if you step outside you will find that there only paramilitary forces, barricades, check posts and dogs. While the students would be forced to take part in I-Day celebrations at Bakshi Stadium and District headquarters, Kashmiris would be undergoing frisking by a security personal so that he won’t disrupt the atmosphere of curfewed freedom. For a handful of persons to celebrate India’s Independence Day in Kashmir, the whole of Kashmir is kept hostage. As the Chief Minister would be unfurling the tricolor he too would subconsciously fear no other shoe is hurled this time as even UAV’s can’t prevent it. As the Bureaucrats would be watching the show of freedom at Bakshi stadium an ordinary Kashmiri would be lamenting for freedom to stop outside without being frisked, children will be wishing to play without the fear of being caught in barbed wire, youth will be yearning to stand up against justice without the fear of being slapped P.S.A and old would wish to see Kashmir free before the ultimate freedom.

As the time is nearing for the closing ceremony of Independence Day celebrations across India, I hope the mobile and net connections are restored in this part of world so that we could at least get a right to express ourselves. Let’s live with the hope that someday world’s largest democracy who keeps no stone unturned to celebrate the day of freedom respects the freedom of this small valley. So that people here are get a breather from celebrating this uncelebrated event here. Else,

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― Maulana Rumi

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