The overwhelming participation of the Kashmiri people in the 76th Independence Day celebrations sent a clear message to traditional leaders and politicians that they have boarded the wagon of peace, prosperity and development.
By hoisting the tricolor on top of their homes to celebrate ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’, the people of Kashmir showed their commitment to building a ‘Naya Jammu and Kashmir’.
The tricolor flying high in Kashmir on the 76th Independence Day was a fitting response to leaders like former J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, who predicted that if Article 370 was repealed, no one would stay in the valley for hold the national flag. The huge turnout of people in the “Har Ghar Tiranga” campaign made it clear that the people of Kashmir approve of the idea of India and that the so-called leaders, who claimed to be their “messiahs”, were nothing more than actors who staged dramas for 70 years to stay in power. They never allowed the Kashmiri man to develop a personal relationship with the Habs. They kept him away from the national flag as well as nationalism.
The leaders, who led J&K for seven decades, never tried to inculcate the feeling of nationalism and patriotism in the hearts of the people because they knew that once the masses realized their rights and duties, the anti-Indian bogey would be rendered irrelevant.
When they took part in Independence and Republic Day celebrations, they used to claim they were doing it under duress, but in New Delhi they claimed they were the only ones who could represent the idea of India in Kashmir. In Kashmir, they cleverly publicized celebrations of occasions like July 13 as “Martyrs Day” and used to make a beeline at Naqashband Sahib Cemetery. They made sure they visited the cemetery and their presence was widely publicized. In doing so, they have fueled the feeling of separatism and secessionism.
The death and birth anniversaries of the founder of the National Conference, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, were observed to remind people of the plebiscite slogan launched by the late leader. In a nutshell, politics in Kashmir was all about drama. It revolved around hollow slogans and irrelevant questions.
After Narendra Modi took office as Prime Minister of India in 2014, he ensured that such dramas in Kashmir came to an end. Shortly after taking over the reins of the country, Prime Minister Modi and his team hatched a comprehensive plan to fully integrate J&K into the Indian Union. The outlines were drawn during the first five years of Prime Minister Modi’s reign.
After the BJP returned to power in 2019 with an overwhelming majority, the task of integrating J&K into the Indian Union was given to Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who within months finalized the terms of removed section 370. It ended the hegemony of the politicians, who had held J&K hostage for 70 years.
The Home Secretary was aware that the so-called rulers of Kashmir were nothing more than paper tigers, who had won elections through the boycott policy and had no support. His calculations proved correct because no one came to demand the release of these leaders when they were arrested after the repeal of Section 370 on August 5, 2019.
On the 76th Independence Day this year, Tiranga flew over Union Territory. People showed their love for the country by hoisting the national flag on top of their homes. They participated in the Tiranga rallies and related events organized to celebrate Azadi ka Mahotsav.
Three years after the repeal of Section 370, J&K is completely on board with the idea of India. Power brokers and political artists have lost their addresses. They make desperate attempts to become relevant. They try to sell “old wine in a new bottle” telling people they’ll get it all back, but the thing is, nobody at J&K wants anything back. People have endorsed the decision of the Prime Minister Modi-led dispensation to end the 70-year status quo. They understood that they were misled and led astray by their leaders just for power.
J&K has changed and changed for good. Credit for the change goes to Prime Minister Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah.
The author is a veteran journalist, political activist and Secretary General of the International Center for Peace Studies (ICPS). He can be contacted at [email protected] The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent the position of this publication.
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