The National Conference will not hold a public function to commemorate the birth anniversary of its founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah — in a first in four decades — as the government has denied permission, the party has said.
“It is very unfortunate that the government has denied us permission to hold the function at Sheikh sahib’s graveyard,” senior NC leader Mohammad Sayeed Akhoon told The Indian Express. “We had written to both the district administration and the police. But we have been told that we can’t organise the function.”
The 114th birth anniversary of the former Prime Minister and Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir is on Thursday and it would be observed as an official holiday in the Union Territory, but the public event will not be allowed.
The anniversary was a state holiday in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Akhoon said that the NC had written to Srinagar Deputy Commissioner Shahid Choudhary and Senior Superintendent of Police Haseeb Mughal seeking permission for the event at Abdullah’s graveyard in Hazratbal.
“Initially, the DC sahib said that he would talk to the Home Commissioner,” Akhoon said. “But then he called to say sorry that the event can’t be allowed.”
Akhoon said that they had informed the civil and police administration that the commemorative function would be limited to showering of flowers and special prayers and no speeches would be allowed.
This is for the first time since Sheikh Abdullah’s death that his birth anniversary celebrations will not be organised due to lack of permission.
Akhoon said that the NC has decided to hold a function at its party headquarters ‘Nawai Subah’ in uptown Srinagar. “We have called our workers to party headquarters. We will meet there and offer special prayers to Sheikh sahib,” he said. “The party workers who want to visit Sheikh sahib’s graveyard can do it in their individual capacity.”
Srinagar SSP Haseeb Mughal said the power to grant permission lies with the District Magistrate. “The DM seeks opinion from police which is purely confidential. Only the DM can comment on it,” he said on Wednesday evening.
Srinagar DM Shahid Chaudhary didn’t respond to attempts by The Indian Express to reach him for comment.