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First anniversary of Article 370: An eerie silence, little celebrations; shutdown amid curbs mark the day in Kashmir | KNO

Crucial meet convened by NC president at his Gupkar residence disallowed, Omar takes to twitter to vent anger, Tarigami questions normalcy claims, no curfew claim far from truth, says Muzafar Shah

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Srinagar, Aug 05 (KNO): The first anniversary of article 370 abrogation and bifurcation of erstwhile state into two halves—Ladakh and J&K on Wednesday saw little celebrations that too from the BJP leaders and activists while entire valley remained under strict curbs amid spontaneous shutdown. On this day last year, union home minister Amit Shah made a historic announcement on the floor of the Parliament—abrogation of article 370 that granted special status to the erstwhile J&K state and creation of two Union Territories. The announcement had triggered a four-month long spontaneous shutdown across the Valley amid stringent curbs coupled with the internet and communication gag. A year on, the internet continues to remain throttled in J&K at 2G speed. According to news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO), the day passed off peacefully barring a grenade attack in southern Shopian district in which no loss of life was reported. Eye-witnesses said that people of Srinagar city woke up to stringent curbs amid heavy deployment of security forces on all major roads including city centre Lal Chowk. “Majority of downtown parts were sealed with pools of concertina wires and nobody was allowed to venture out on streets,” a resident of the volatile Nowhatta area told KNO. Residents of other downtown parts echoed similar views. Reports from various district headquarters of Kashmir suggested that complete shutdown was observed even as heavy deployment of security forces remained on roads and towns. The authorities also didn’t allow the crucial meeting convened by the National Conference president Dr Farooq Abdullah at his Gupkar residence as all roads leading to his house were sealed with concertina wires and heavy deployment of forces was made. Talking to KNO, Dr Farooq said that none of the leaders, he had invited for the meeting to evolve a joint consensus post Article 370 roll back, but he heard that all have been put under house detention. “They (BJP) claim a political process has started in Kashmir, but they didn’t allow leaders to reach my home,” he said. NC vice-president Omar Abdullah took to his twitter handle to vent his anger. He wrote: “One year on, this is Gupkar road today - police vehicles opposite our gates, concertina wire strung across the road at regular intervals & no vehicles allowed. My father had called a meeting of leaders of MAINSTREAM parties to deliberate on the current situation.” In another tweet, Omar wrote: “Clearly the meeting is not being allowed to go ahead. The BJP gets to announce a 15 day celebration to mark 5th Aug & a handful of us aren’t allowed to meet in my father’s lawn. So much for BJP national leaders wondering why there is no political activity.” In another tweet the former chief minister of erstwhile State of J&K, wrote: “One year later the authorities are still too afraid to allow us to meet much less carry out any normal political activity. This fear speaks volumes about the true situation on the ground in Kashmir.” CPI (M) senior leader and former MLA Kulgam, Muhammad Yousuf Tarigami asked that is this the normalcy which government is talking about?  "How can you claim normalcy when the leaders are not even being allowed to hold a meeting," he said. “I was scheduled to attend the meeting today, but was asked not to venture out of his home today.” Meanwhile, there were little celebrations too by none other than the BJP leaders and workers. They celebrated the day by unfurling the flag and distributing sweets among each other at the party headquarters. The biggest function was held in BJP’s Srinagar office where the national flag was hoisted amid a pledge that all the party leaders will serve J&K to the best of their capabilities. J&K BJP spokesman, Altaf Thakur, said that the party celebrated one year of Article 370 revocation at all district headquarters and the main function was held in Srinagar office of the party. “The celebrations will last for 15 days and there will be virtual rallies followed by the visits of various union ministers of J&K in the days ahead. They will meet people and listen to their grievances,” Thakur said. Awami National Conference (ANC) vice president Muzaffar Shah said that he was stopped when he tried to venture out of his house. “On Doordarshan, an announcement was made there is no curfew, but facts on ground tell another story. I was stopped,” he said—(KNO)

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