Srinagar: For the first time in the history of Kashmir, the government has decided to deploy three helicopters which would shower flowers from the sky on the venue of January 26 celebrations (India’s Republic Day) this year. The official venue of the celebrations will be Ground B of the Sher-e-Kashmir Cricket Stadium.
Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Baseer Khan, recently convened a meeting of high-ranking police and administrative officers to prepare for Republic Day. It was decided in the meeting that three Pawan Hans helicopters will be made available for showering flowers on the venue.
For this, the Director Floriculture has been instructed to closely coordinate with Divisional Commissioner Kashmir and Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Srinagar.
“Three Pawan Hans helicopters will be utilised for flower-showering on the venue and periodic aerial surveys of the venue should be held,” read the minutes of the meeting. “Office of the divisional commissioner, Kashmir, SSP Srinagar and director floriculture shall remain in close coordination at the venue. Assistant commissioner, central, with divisional commissioner shall be the nodal officer who should liaison with the departments involved,” the minutes read.
Senior journalist Yousuf Jameel said he had never heard of flowers being showered on January 26 celebrations in Jammu and Kashmir. “It has never happened. I do not think I remember even before 1990 such an exercise being carried out on Jan 26,” Jameel said.
Historian and poet Zareef Ahmad Zareef said the same thing. “It has never been a tradition. May be it happened on one odd occasion. But it is also a tradition that this day has never been celebrated with fervour or happiness in Kashmir,” he said.
The official meeting also decided to change the venue from Bakhshi stadium to Ground B of Shere-e-Kashmir cricket stadium at Sonawar, as the former is being renovated.
“In Srinagar, the security should be tightened more than before due to the change in the venue,” the minutes of the meeting read.
“The entry to Ground B of the cricket stadium should remain closed from January 15,” it said. They say that January 26 celebrations will start from early morning at 7:30am.
The administration directed police and other “security agencies to ensure adequate and full-proof security arrangements in and around the venue.”
“The police department will prepare a comprehensive security plan well in advance for the purpose,” the minutes read. “SSP security has been asked to install a bullet-proof transparent kiosk for the VIPs along with the podium.”
The Roads & Buildings department has been directed to install edifices at the venue. The minutes say that 500 elevated pavilions have to be constructed for VIPs/VVIPs.
“Also devise a seating arrangement plan for 5000 people with solid water proof shamianas,” it said.
The officials decided that all main government buildings and roads will be illuminated to mark Jan 26. “The PDD (power development department) will illuminate the main government offices, landmark buildings and prominent roads, including the cricket stadium,” said the document.
The power department has been directed to ensure uninterrupted supply of power on the rehearsal day and also on Jan 26. Besides, the department has to install generators as back-up.
The officials also asked other departments to provide sanitation, clean drinking water, and medical facilities for the participants.