While the J&K government imposed curfew in all major towns of the Valley to prevent people from observing Pakistan’s Independence Day, Pakistan flags were hoisted across Kashmir Sunday. The biggest rally was in south Kashmir, where militants hoisted and “saluted” the Pakistan flag and addressed large gatherings of people.
Hundreds assembled at Kulgam’s Redwani village to “celebrate” the day. As people assembled in the village, four militants, in black dress — with Hizbul Mujahideen scribbled on their backs — appeared and addressed the rally. The militants also gave a gun salute to the Pakistan flag.
“We have been told not to come to public rallies. But we have come today because it is August 14…We appeal to people to follow the Hurriyat programme. When they say you should open (the shops), you should open them, and when they call for closure, you should close,” said the militants, who spoke for more than 20 minutes. But the address was barely audible as the wires of the public address system had snapped when people rushed in.
In Jabripora village of Bijbehara, locals held a parade to “salute” the Pakistan flag. In Batapora village of Khanabal, hundreds “celebrated” amid the beating of drums. Pakistan flags were hoisted in villages across south Kashmir, on tree tops, mobile towers and electric poles. In Pehnoo village of Shopian, many participated in a rally to hoist the Pakistan flag.
In Keegam, Shopian, nine people were injured when police and paramilitary forces fired pellets on a rally. Nine persons were also injured by pellets in Malangpora, Pulwama.
Though strict curfew was in place in Anantnag town, Pakistan flags were hoisted in the town after curfew was lifted in the evening. In Baramulla, more than 50 people were injured when police and paramilitary forces fired pellets and teargas shells to disperse hundreds of people, who had assembled to hoist the Pakistan flag at a rally.
A large gathering assembled at Azad Gunj in Baramulla for a scheduled “parade” on Pakistan’s Independence Day. The rally was attended by men, women and school children and Pakistani national songs were reportedly played.
Pakistan flags were also hoisted at several places in Sopore, Bandipore and Kupwara. Four persons were injured when police and paramilitary forces fired pellets to disperse a rally at Delina in Baramulla. In Sopore’s Bomai village, a similar pro-Pakistan rally was dispersed by police, resulting in clashes in which at least six people were injured. Five people were injured in clashes at Trehgam in Kupwara. Clashes were also reported from several villages in Bandipore.
Strict curfew was in place in entire Srinagar city Sunday to prevent pro-Pakistan rallies, but flags were hoisted during night at several places in the city.
Police said that 21 stone-pelting incidents were reported across Kashmir Sunday.
Andrabi leads protest
Separatist outfit Dukhtaran-e-Millat chief Syeda Aasiya Andrabi was injured Sunday when police fired teargas shells to disperse a protest by women in Tral. Andrabi surfaced in Tral Sunday morning and led the women’s procession.
Rajnath reviews security
Home Minister Rajnath Singh Sunday reviewed the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir in particular, and the country in general, on the eve of Independence Day.
Among those who attended the meeting were National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi and chiefs of intelligence agencies.
The security scenario in the Kashmir Valley was discussed at length during the meeting, sources said.
‘Forces showed restraint’
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar Sunday commended the armed forces for showing restraint in tackling terrorists in the Kashmir Valley despite “grave provocation” and stressed the need to maintain vigil on borders and keep assets in readiness. “Our armed forces have shown utmost restraint in tackling terrorists in the Kashmir Valley despite grave provocations,” he said in his address on All India Radio on the eve of Independence Day.