August 15, 2022.
Last year, amidst strict curbs on any kind on civilian movement, city centers were lit up in the colours of the indian flag. But this year, the settler-colonial state has already set an even more authoritarian style of celebrations into motion. Here is a summary of what is being done and what has been planned:
Order Issued Coercing Students & Shopkeepers into Celebrating, Withdrawn Later.
Along with the ritualistic national anthem singing competitions that were introduced last year, Indian government has taken “patriotic initiatives” a notch ahead this year. Students and shopkeepers in the region were directed to deposit an INR 20 fees towards the “Har Ghar Tiranga” (Indian Flag in Every Home) campaign. Social Media was abuzz with videos of intimidating announcements on loudspeakers by the district administration, asking shopkeepers to deposit the said amount. A separate order was also issued making it mandatory for local business owners to hoist the Indian flag over their shops and other business establishments. However, after drawing condemnation from locals, the administration called the campaign “voluntary” and withdrew both orders.
Kashmir-Specific Social Media Campaigns to Post Indian Flag Hoisting Videos
The Indian government has also issued special diktats for video documentation of flag hoisting ceremonies on government buildings across the region. These videos will later be posted on social media as part of the larger “Celebration of Independence” campaign being led by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Order Issued for the Indian Flag to be Posted on Social Media Display Pictures
Government officials have also been directed to change their display pictures to the Indian flag across various social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram. Top ranking police officers in Kashmir including various Station House Officers have already made the change a week ahead of Indian Independence Day.
Order Issued for Mandatory Flag Hoisting Over Homes, Withdrawn Later
An official order was also issued making it mandatory for civilians in Kashmir to hoist the Indian flag over their homes. However, this order was also withdrawn later and the Divisional Commissioner of J&K Police once again termed the campaign as “voluntary”. However, even though the campaign has been termed voluntary, the Indian government still appointed nodal officers to ensure flag hoisting across homes in Kashmir.
‘Tiranga’ Rally Flagged Off from Lal Chowk Srinagar
Amidst a complete shutdown of Srinagar’s business hub Lal Chowk, leaders of the Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party of India flagged off a first of its kind “Tiranga” rally. 200 workers of the party gathered from all over India to participate in the rally. Notably, no civilian movement was allowed in the area during this time.
Apart from this, in the week leading to the 15th of August, the Indian army and the CRPF posted in Kashmir have held numerous Indian flag marches across the region. Amidst heavy restrictions on civilian life, leaders of the Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party held a meet with their party workers and hoisted the Indian flag in South Kashmir’s Islamabad district. The function took place under heavy presence of army and photographers. Pictures from this event were later posted across social media with the BJP and various Indian users terming it as a “success” towards integrating Kashmir with India.
While the Indian government is planning palatial celebrations of its independence from colonial rule in a region it is actively colonizing Muharram processions in Kashmir were met with brute force a week before the same Independence Day. Social media was filled with videos of the J&K police attacking mourners with batons and tear gas shells. At the same time, the issuance of official diktats and their subsequent withdrawal is not a phenomenon alien to Kashmir. These tactics have since long been used to spread fear psychosis and force people into submission. As India continues to violently clampdown on students, researchers, and journalists, its Independence Day celebrations are set to take place under heavy military crackdown on civilian life, closure of schools and suspension of internet as well as mobile network services in Kashmir. And as always, Kashmiris will continue to see August 15 as a day a new colonial power came into being.
(photo: Bilal Bahadur KL)
As india continues to violently clampdown on students, researchers, and journalists, its Independence Day celebrations in Kashmir are set to take place under heavy military crackdown on Kashmiris, closure of schools, and suspension of internet & phones. And as always, Kashmiris will continue to see August 15 as a day a new colonial power came into being.
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