The summer capital of the state has been turned into a fortress to ensure a “safe” and incident free parade in the Bakshi stadium on August 15. This year the police and other agencies are on their toes following a series of militant attacks across Kashmir during the past few months. There is no harm in preventing a “terror” attack but taking people hostage in the name of security cannot be justified by any means especially at a time when people across India will be celebrating Independence Day.
Policemen using landmine detectors and other high-end surveillance gadgets have sanitised the Bakshi stadium. Sniffer dogs are also likely to be pressed into the sanitisation process. Traffic has already been diverted and many roads are blocked causing inconvenience to the general public.
Arresting dissidents has already put a question mark on the credibility of the exercise. The measures taken by the authorities to ensure a “peaceful” parade have caused great inconvenience to the people living in the vicinity of the stadium. In the coming days, troops will conduct house-to-house searches of the surrounding areas. It has been a practice to post sharp-shooters in Lalded hospital and houses around the stadium, causing fear among the residents. And, as the authorities make a big show of democracy inside the stadium, people remain totally indifferent. However, the authorities can make the occasion meaningful if release of all the political prisoners is announced. The cases against stone-pelters need to be withdrawn. Some life convicts have completed twenty years in prison. Their cases need to be reviewed. The occasion must yield something positive for the general public.
August 15 celebrations cause great inconvenience for the general public. Frisking and strip search becomes routine during these days. And authorities turn a blind eye to the situation. They go on with their celebrations without caring for the people. These steps only add to resentment towards the state apparatus, which later manifests in angry protests. The prime minister of India has visited the state many times and promised a lot but so far nothing has been delivered. Kashmiris do not seek a political or economic package from Narendra Modi. Let him just ensure that the justice system works properly in Kashmir.