Srinagar frozen for Modi’s visit, PDP expects 30,000-strong rally
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
Over 5,000 Policemen in civvies deployed to swell PM’s audience
SRINAGAR, Nov 6: With the coalition partners PDP and BJP working in unison and using all possible resources to mobilise crowds for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rally---expecting a 30,000-strong gathering---separatist hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani has called upon the Kashmiris to assemble at Tourist Reception Centre grounds for what he has named ‘million march’ on Saturday.
Without a formal announcement, authorities have decided to impose curfew-like restrictions in the entire summer capital on Saturday when Modi would be on his first visit to the Valley after formation of the BJP-PDP government and addressing a public meeting at SK Stadium at Sonwar, in the Civil Lines. All the prominent separatist leaders, including independent MLA Engineer Rashid, have been placed under house arrest while as more than 800 separatist activists and former militants have been lifted and detained in jails and Police Stations.
With Concertina wire barricades, Police and paramilitary forces have sealed all the roads leading to Sonwar and few vehicles were seen crossing these checkpoints without checking and questioning of drivers. However, until late on Friday, no untoward incident was reported from anywhere across the Valley.
STATE TIMES learned from well-placed sources that around 5,000 Police personnel, mostly constables and followers, were collected from all the Police districts and prepared for a drill to intermingle in the crowds to make the size of Modi’s rally swell. However, some of the officers dismissed it as “rumour” while others insisted that putting Policemen in civvies in the VVIP rallies was “strictly for security reasons”. One senior officer on the condition of anonymity disclosed that Police had inputs about possible attempts by the separatists to carry and wave Pakistani national flags at the venue during PM’s speech.
“It was because of this apprehension that we decided not to permit anybody with a flag towards the venue. Both the parties will distribute their party flags, including the Tricolour, very much at the venue under Police supervision”, said the officer.
On Friday, there was not much tension though areas under six Police Stations reeled under undeclared curfew. None of the prominent separatist leaders was allowed to attend or hold Friday congregational prayers at the community mosques.
In a statement issued late in the evening on Friday, Geelani asked his followers to come out in defiance of restrictions and make his call for the “million march” a success. He, however, advised them to maintain peace and avoid any provocation that could provide an excuse of action to the authorities.
“Don’t let the enemy to succeed in their nefarious designs”, Geelani addressed the youths. He claimed that his march was “not against any religion or community and our non-Muslim brothers need not worry about anything. They are an important part of our society and our brothers of human relation and Islam also guarantees the protection of life, property, honor, culture, religious beliefs and places for the non-Muslim brothers”.
“Islam doesn’t believe in force or coercion, the will of a human being is highly respected in Islam”, Geelani said. “Geelani sahab appealed all the non-Muslim brothers Hindus, Sikhs, Christens and Buddhists to continue their moral, social and political support to our national cause. We will be pleased if any non-Muslim brother will participate in our Million March program and we welcome them with open arms”, read the statement issued by a spokesman of Geelani-led Hurriyat.
“While appealing the people to come out in large numbers to take part in the scheduled “Million March” program, the Hurriyat Chairman said that the Muslim population of Jammu & Kashmir are duty bound to attend the Million March program because this march is against that force and autocratic rule in which our lives, our property, our honour, our dignity, our culture and even our religion is not safe so it is our responsibility to make the proposed march a grand success”, it added.
Geelani said that his Hurriyat would announce its million march in future if the authorities used force to foil it on the day of Modi’s visit.