The Other Side Of PM Modi’s Visit To Kashmir
Amidst three-tier security arrangements, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday visited conflict-hit Kashmir to inaugurate development projects in J&K’s summer capital Srinagar.
While in the rest of India, the Prime Minister is welcomed with the chants of ‘Modi…Modi’, the streets of Kashmir observed a curfew-like silence – restrictions were imposed on civilians’ and tourists’ movements, high-speed internet was snapped, separatist leaders were put under house arrests, and even educational institutes and businesses remained shut – all as a “precautionary measure”.
“There has not been a single year in the last four years when I did not visit Srinagar,” PM Modi said proudly at the inauguration event in Srinagar. However, each of his visits to Kashmir has happened in a similar fashion – amidst shutdowns, curfews, internet bans and restrictions.
“Once again, I have got the opportunity to come here, and it is because of your love and affection,” he further said.
The auditorium, in which the event was held, majorly comprised of officials, local politicians, and party members. There were also seen a few local Kashmiris who were cautiously hiding their faces every time a photographer’s lens zoomed in.
In fact, to protest PM’s visit, separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq had appealed to the people to come out of their houses and march peacefully towards Srinagar’s centre Lal Chowk. The police, however, foiled the protest by detaining the leaders who attempted to take out the rally.
While the peaceful protest was foiled out, minor stone-pelting incidents were also reported between local youths and forces in Downtown Srinagar.
“Most of us were aware what the situation would be on PM Modi’s visit,” said a travel agent Mushtaq Dar. “Hence, many already did changes in the itinerary or planned things in a way that tourists don’t have to stay in Srinagar on the day of PM’s visit.”
The famous Dal Lake on Saturday, which is known for its visitors, hardly observed any tourist movements.
While the locals are used to shutdowns and snapping of high-speed internet, a tourist from West Bengal, who is on a one-week tour to Kashmir along with a group of five, believes PM’s visit “wasted” one of their holidays.
“Our travel agent has asked us to stay back. The Dhabas are closed, the internet is down, and we could do nothing other than just going back to our room and sleep in this nice cold weather,” she said.
Looking at an armed man patrolling, she added, “But, this surely doesn’t look like a democratic leader’s visit.”