Ground Report: How Srinagar Actually Celebrated Independence Day

The Quint’s Shadab Moizee with a ground report on the Independence Day celebrations in the Valley.

3 min read

While the whole country was celebrating the 73rd Independence Day on Thursday, 15 August, the situation in Srinagar was nothing short of a curfew. Governor Satya Pal Malik, meanwhile, assured people that the abrogation of Article 370 was ‘not an attack on their identity.’

While most media houses showed visuals and pictures of J&K locals “celebrating” Independence Day, The Quint’s Shadab Moizee, who is reporting from Srinagar amid the communication crackdown in the Valley, managed to make a five-minute phone call to the Delhi bureau.

He first walked the bureau through the official celebration of Independence Day, where Governor Satya Pal Malik had unfurled the national flag.


“The Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, Satya Pal Malik unfurled the national flag at the Sher-i-Kashmir stadium on the occasion of Independence Day. A lot of media personnel were present, including national media – which usually never happens. People from different parts of the country were present. People from Maharashtra, Kolkata and other places were seen carrying flags and raising slogans. Some people also tried to unfurl the flag at Lal Chowk but were detained,” he said.

‘Undeclared Curfew’

Moizee further said that while there are no reports of violence from any part of the city, the situation in Srinagar is nothing less than ‘curfew-like’.

“There are no reports of violence from anywhere. The entire city has a curfew-like situation. The government isn’t calling it a curfew but the situation is somewhat similar. Till 12 pm, nobody, including the media was allowed to ply private vehicles on roads. Even normal pedestrians weren’t allowed. It was a curfew, without calling it a curfew. There were people who were asked to return. The media persons were given passes to go to the stadium, and that is how they covered it,” he said.

‘Greater Kashmir’ Journalist Arrested

Moizee further informed that a Greater Kashmir journalist was arrested by the police on Thursday.

“A senior journalist of the local daily newspaper Greater Kashmir, Arif Ameen Malik, was arrested last night. I got a chance to have a conversation with him and he told me that the police hasn’t informed him why he was arrested. He is being held in Karal under surveillance. Even the chief secretary and other officers have no information about his arrest yet,” he said.


‘Journalists in J&K Struggling the Most’

Moizee also revealed how journalists in the Valley were struggling to report stories due to the crackdown on internet and other means of communication.

“I had conversations with local media persons who are facing a lot of problems as they are not able to file stories at all. The bigger media houses have OB vans with them, so they are able to file stories and go live, but the local media is unable to do so. It’s been 10 days and the internet and mobile services are still suspended. The landline services too are suspended. People are not able to communicate with each other in any manner,” he said.

“What was historic about this Independence Day was that two things won’t happen here from now on. One, with Jammu & Kashmir becoming a Union Territory, the governor, henceforth, won’t unfurl the national flag – since there will be an L-G and a CM. Secondly, there won’t be two flags anymore. The flag of J&K was not seen in the celebrations and will not be unfurled here again,” he added.


‘Locals Not Impressed With PM Modi’

Asked how people reacted to PM Modi’s comments on J&K, in his Independence Day address, Moizee said: “From what I have gathered, many people here feel that they are caged... what more can be expected from them? If you say that they are living peacefully and happily, that is not possible. They say that, ‘If you wanted good for us, you would have at least spoken to us once. You could have taken our views and we could have told you whether we are happy or not.’”

“Even on Independence Day, they did not feel free. There was no independence for them as they felt caged in their own houses. There’s a curfew-like situation here. You can see some people outside in the evenings, but very few,” he added, before disconnecting the call.

The crackdown in Jammu and Kashmir entered its 11th day on Thursday, since the Modi government’s decision to abrogate Article 370 in the state.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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