The Bharatiya Janata Party on Thursday commemorated the second anniversary of the Union government’s decision to rescind Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, previously granted under Article 370 of the Constitution, reported PTI. But other political parties highlighted that it was a day when the central government took “unilateral, unconstitutional, and undemocratic decisions”.
Jammu and Kashmir has been under central rule since June 2018. The special status of the erstwhile state under Article 370 was revoked on August 5, 2019, by Parliament and the region was bifurcated into the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
A shutdown was observed in Srinagar on Thursday, with most businesses reportedly being closed in parts of the city. Only some stores selling essential items were open, according to the Hindustan Times.
Traders in Srinagar’s Lal Chowk area told the newspaper that senior police officials were forcing them to open their establishments. “I saw policemen calling shopkeepers and even picking locks of closed business establishments,” a resident, who did not want to disclose their identity, told the Hindustan Times.
Photojournalists also alleged that the police were not permitting them to take pictures or videos of officials showing that they were forcing shopkeepers to open, reported the Hindustan Times. Several security personnel were deployed across Srinagar as checkpoints were set up at multiple sites.
The saffron party held political rallies and hoisted the Indian flag across the erstwhile state.
The Farooq Abdullah-led National Conference led a meeting of its party members. The party said that Abdullah reiterated that the Union government’s decisions related to the region were “unacceptable to the party as they were two years ago”.
The Mehbooba Mufti-led Peoples Democratic Party called it a “day of mourning for J&K” and held a protest. PDP members also walked through the streets of Srinagar, forming a human chain around Mufti, who was heard shouting slogans.
“[The] BJP government started oppression, barbarism in 2019,” Mufti told the media, reported ANI. “It is unfortunate that [the] BJP is celebrating while Kashmir is mourning. We will resist this. We will force [the] government to speak to Pakistan to address external dimensions.”
The party’s supporters were seen carrying black flags and a poster that read: “Restore our honour...dignity.... Restore Article 370, 35A.”
The Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party also called for the restoration of the region’s statehood and demanded that the Assembly elections should be held early, reported PTI.
Congress leader P Chidambaram said an “(un)constitutional coup was executed in J&K” on August 5, 2019. “Every aspect of democracy was desecrated on that day and India’s democratic credentials were diminished in the eyes of the world,” he tweeted. “We must stand resolutely with the people of J&K.”
Meanwhile, BJP National General Secretary Tarun Chugh defended the Centre, claiming that one of the biggest achievements of the Union government’s decision was that it helped tackle terrorist forces, according to PTI. He also alleged that the coalition of regional parties, called the Gupkar Alliance was “trying to disrupt the positive narrative in Jammu and Kashmir”.
BJP Municipal Councillor from Anantnag district, Romasia Rafiq, hoisted the Indian flag near the Degree College in Khanabal town. Rafiq was joined by 200 workers of the BJP.