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Monday, April 11, 2016

Who clouded Anupam Kher’s view of Kashmir?

Kerala temple fire spoils high drama at Srinagar airport

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz


JAMMU, April 10: Two Kashmiri Pandit activists, Anupam Kher and Ashok Pandit, who are both associated with the silver screen entertainment, arrived in to enact high drama at Srinagar Airport in solidarity with the NIT Srinagar students on Sunday. However, they left back disappointed as their own dream government did not permit them to venture out and all the country’s television news channels diverted to the Kerala temple tragedy which left over a hundred people dead and over 350 injured.

Contrary to the high spirits the Bollywood personalities---both known for their pro-BJP crusade--- demonstrated in their tweets for the NIT students, neither of them expressed displeasure for the BJP-PDP coalition that sent them back unceremoniously. A many people in Jammu and Kashmir seemed to believe that their visit was “BJP’s stage-managed show” aimed at addressing the outraged right wing constituency in the midst of Assembly elections in Assam and ahead of the polling in some other States.

Kher and Pandit, accompanied by an aide, landed at Srinagar airport around 10.30 am. Waiting for their arrival, senior J&K Police officials led them to the VIP Lounge and made it clear that Mehbooba Mufti’s government had issued directions that they the NIT-bound high profile visitors should not be allowed to proceed to Srinagar.

Eyewitnesses said that neither of the Bollywood personalities showed much of resistance, though Kher insisted he be permitted to pay a visit to Kheerbhawani Temple and Mata Zeshtha Devi Temple (Zethiyar), close to Raj Bhawan, on Zarbarvan foothills. Kher also wished to call on his cousin in Karan Nagar.

DIG Central Kashmir Ghulam Hassan Bhat and SSP Budgam Fayaz Ahmad Lone dealt with the duo for some time even as one SSP from CID also tripped in. IGP Kashmir Syed Javaid Mujtaba Gilani was also spotted at the Terminal Building but he did not walk in to interact with Kher and Pandit.

Interestingly, Pandit had last week tweeted that J&K Police was a “terrorist” and “pro-Pakistan force” when Police carried out lathi charge on the non-local students during a clash and demonstration at NIT on April 5.

Kher and Pandit did not take the tea offered to them. They instead went upstairs and took lunch at a restaurant. Later, they purchased their tickets and returned to New Delhi by Indigo flight at 2.50 pm.

Neither of the two issued a statement or tweet in protest before or after reaching back to New Delhi.

On his arrival in New Delhi, Pandit tweeted: “At #Delhi airport. A calm sunset after a hectic day of struggle to meet #NIT students, but not allowed. #Shame”. However, he did not identify the target of his diatribe. It remained unclear who his shame was for.

Kher, the husband of BJP’s MP Kiron Kher, posted images of the Srinagar-Delhi sector clouds on his Twitter handle and wrote: “My view of Kashmir was clouded today. But i am sure these clouds will clear one day. There'll b sunlight.:)#Optimism”. He too avoided to identify as to who had clouded his view of Kashmir---Mehbooba Mufti or Narendra Modi.

Kher went on tweeting with a gratitude for the airport staff and Police: “Thank you Srinagar airport staff, J&K Police & other authorities for your warmth & hospitality while i was at d airport. I will be back. He added: “As i return from Srinagar airport, my heart is heavy but i have hope that things will change & become better. I remain an #EternalOptimist”. Inside the VIP Lounge, Kher unfolded the Tricolour and displayed it for a picture which he later posted on Twitter.

In the past, India has witnessed BJP leaders’ hard-hitting statements against Omar Abdullah’s NC-Congress Government in J&K whenever it sent back the politicians or other activists in identical circumstances.

[Published in today's Early Times]

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