Preparations underway in Kashmir to celebrate Pakistan’s Independence Day: intel agencies inform MHA
Incidents of Pakistan’s national flag being waved in Kashmir are not new. However, it is for the first time in almost three decades that preparations are on to celebrate Pakistan’s Independence Day on August 14, intelligence agencies have alerted the Ministry of Home Affairs.
According to a report in The Indian Express, a pro-Pakistani faction in the Valley that has been under strict curfew from the last one month is in plans to celebrate Pakistan’s Independence Day in a big way.
They have prepared makeshift platforms in all major towns to hoist Pakistan’s national flag to mark the country’s 70th Independence Day.
If this happens, this will be the first time in the history when anti-India elements in Kashmir will unfurl Pakistani flag despite strict security arrangements, especially after last month’s killing of Hizbul militant Burhan Wani.
Local Pakistan Day parades were sometimes organised by militants in 80s before Indian troops established their presence in the more remote parts of the Valley.
The report, quoting sources, mentioned that the preparations are led by local-level militant commanders and secessionist politicians.
The latest inputs from intelligence agencies have added more worry to already troubled New Delhi which has been struggling hard to restore normally in Kashmir. Key officials in the capital met yesterday to discuss plans to stop these Pakistan Day celebrations.
They have been told by security agencies that any attempt to intervene to stop crowds from gathering may hurt innocent civilians.
In J&K, the state government has instructed police not to use force to disperse peaceful protests. On Wednesday, hundreds of protestors waved Pakistani flags during a rally on boats from Urnhall to Panzalpora, close to CM Mehbooba Mufti’s home town, Bijbehara.
The intelligence report said that flag-posts, improvised from metal pipes used for drainage, have been set up on cement foundations. The Sopore-Doabgah-Rafiabad road has more than 20 such platforms.
More than 25 places along the road from Sopore through Watlab on to Bandipora, makeshift wooden stakes have been set up. Pulwama, Sopore and Anantnag also have a dense concentration of makeshift sites for August 14 celebration.
Local students and residents are also being mobilised to participate in the ceremonies without fear of a crackdown. Separatist leaders and militant commanders at several places can also address public gatherings and pay tributes to slain militants. They have even asked the locals to stay away from all August 15 (India’s Independence Day) events and not to send children to participate in any ceremonial parade or cultural programme.
Meanwhile, local authorities informed that Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti will take the salute and unfurl the tricolour at Bakhshi Stadium as scheduled. They also said that helicopters have been arranged for ferrying ministers for taking part in August 15 celebrations at district headquarters and some major towns.