More than 8,000 students and youths took part in the ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ rally in the Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday to mark the 75th anniversary of India’s independence. The event was organized in the Tral region of Awantipora, which was earlier a hotbed of terrorists.
Earlier, on August 5, on the third anniversary of the abrogation of Article 370, hundreds of school girls marched carrying the tricolour while participating in a rally in Poonch district. In Bandipora district, another hotbed of terrorists, Kashmiri schoolgirls sang the national anthem and ‘Saare Jahan se accha, Hindostan hamara’ as part of the ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ campaign. ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ campaign, launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is part of the ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’ (75th year of independence), in which citizens are encouraged to bring the Tiranga home and hoist it on their houses as part of nationwide celebrations.
Visuals of Kashmiri youth waving the tricolour in stadiums, schools and public squares are a sight to behold because three years ago, nobody could have imagined such patriotic events, at least in the Valley. These visuals have naturally unnerved separatists and their Pakistani masters sitting across the border, and they have now resorted to attacking Army camps and targeting migrant labourers.
Before Thursday dawn broke, two Pakistani terrorists tried to sneak into an Army camp of 11th Rajasthan Rifles in village Parghal, nine km from Darhal in Rajouri district. They were wearing combat dresses and, according to officials, belonged to Jaish-e-Mohammed. According to sources, they were first spotted at the Darhal bus stand on Tuesday evening but escaped before police reached the spot.
At around 2.10 am on Thursday, the two terrorists lobbed a grenade to breach the fence, but our alert jawans challenged them with counterfire. The terrorists managed to sneak inside, taking cover of hostile weather conditions, and engaged in heavy firing using steel core bullets. Both the terrorists were gunned down, but during the four-hour-long encounter, four Army brave hearts were martyred. Those martyred included Subedar Rajendra Prasad of Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan, Rifleman Laxmanrao of Madurai, Tamil Nadu, Rifleman Manoj Kumar of Faridabad, Haryana, and Rifleman Nishant Malik of Hissar, Haryana. Two AK rifles and a large number of arms, ammunition and explosives were recovered from the slain terrorists.
A senior security official said that search and combing operations have begun in Rajouri and Nowshera areas because of intelligence inputs about Pakistan sending more ‘fidayeen’ terrorists to spoil Independence Day celebrations. “They (terrorists) wanted to do a repeat of Uri-type attack here too, but our jawans bravely fought and gunned them down. The Line of Control is about 30 km from Darhal, and there could be two possibilities. Either the terrorists crossed the LoC and took the mountainous route to reach Darhal, or they were sent by Jaish commanders from South Kashmir”, the official said.
Separatist and terrorist outfits in Kashmir Valley have now become desperate, as more and more Kashmiri youths are now participating in Independence Day celebrations and Tiranga rallies. These rallies are being taken out in places which used to be the hotbeds of terrorists, where security forces used to face stoning from youths. But now, Kashmiri girls, wearing hijab, are waving the Tricolour proudly and singing the national anthem. This is the face of Kashmir, that has now changed in the last three years. The Deputy Commissioner of Pulwama district Bashir-ul Haque Chowdhary said that the enthusiasm among the people is to be seen to be believed. “People are coming out of their homes holding Tiranga flag on their own”, he said.
In an Urdu School in Poonch, the event was not organized by the local administration. Schoolgirls brought Tricolour flags from their homes and enthusiastically participated in the event. Their teachers arranged rehearsals of patriotic songs and dances for the girls. In my prime-time show ‘Aaj Ki Baat’ on Thursday night, we showed how these girls were singing ‘Saare Jahan Se Accha, Hindostan Hamara’ in a full-throated voice.
In Anantnag, another hotbed of terrorists, hundreds of local people took part in the Tiranga rally, and chanted slogans like ‘Hindostan zindabad’. In Srinagar, the BSF jawans took out a Tiranga bike rally from Pantha Chowk to Dal Lake. There has been a sea change in the situation in the Valley in recent months.
The terrorists are naturally desperate after seeing the nationalistic surge among citizens in the Valley. On Thursday night, terrorists shot a migrant worker from Bihar, Mohammed Amrez, at point blank range in Soadnara, Sumbal of Bandipora district. He was staying in the house of a local resident. By taking out ‘soft targets, the terrorists are trying to strike fear among outsiders living in the Valley, but they are fast losing support from the local Kashmiris.
The visuals of Kashmiri youths, both boys and girls, waving Tiranga, are a stinging reply to leaders like Mehbooba Mufti, who had warned three years ago that if Article 370 was abrogated, there won’t be a single person in the Valley to raise the Tricolour. Her fears have been proved unfounded by Kashmiris themselves.
I met Jammu and Kashmir Lt. Governor Manoj Sinha last week and asked about the situation in the Valley. Sinha said, the situation has now undergone a sea change. There is peace in the Valley, new highways, hospitals, power projects, and schools are being built, he said. Cine multiplex is also being built, new stadiums are taking shape, youths are getting training in sports, they are getting employment, and, above all, the atmosphere of fear has ended, Sinha said. Now there are no more sudden ‘bandh’ calls in the Valley by separatists. In the last one year, more than 1.6 crore tourists visited Kashmir. This year, till now, 136 terrorists have been gunned down in Kashmir. During the three years since the abrogation of Article 370, 690 terrorists were killed by security forces.
This is a clear indication that the situation in Kashmir has now changed. Naturally, terrorists, separatists and their Pakistani masters are feeling uncomfortable and desperate. They seem to be fighting a losing battle. Thursday’s attack on the Army camp was one of the fallouts of such desperation.
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