In what could be yet another historic move, Union Home Minister Amit Shah might airdash to Srinagar to unfurl the Tricolour at Lal Chowk on Independence Day, August 15.
In a closely guarded secret, high-security measures are being ensured for Shah’s Srinagar visit on Thursday.
However, officials in Jammu and Kashmir police headquarters have not yet confirmed Shah’s much-awaited first visit after the bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir into two separate Union Territories. National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, currently monitoring the situation in the Valley, might also be present at Lal Chowk on Independence Day, sources said.
In New Delhi, sources in the Ministry of Home Affairs said Shah’s visit to the Valley is expected, but exact dates cannot be shared with the media at the moment.
“It’s a security concern. Amid escalating tension between the two countries (India-Pakistan), the Home Minister’s visit cannot be revealed in advance,” an officer said.
The Home Minister usually travels by a Border Security Force aircraft and his itinerary is shared with coordinating government agencies at the last moment, including Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) which guards airports in the country. Shah, who also heads BJP as its national President, has a very high threat perception, according to latest intelligence inputs.
For Home Minister Amit Shah and his mentor Prime Minister Narendra Modi, unfurling the national Tricolour at Lal Chowk in Srinagar has been a nostalgic event in their political career. In 1992, senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi, accompanied by Modi, had unfurled the Tricolour at Lal Chowk, despite a grave threat from various Pakistan-based terror organisations. Lal Chowk, the main commercial centre in downtown Srinagar, came into significance when India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru unfurled the national flag here in 1948.
Army chief General Bipin Rawat said the Army is committed to maintaining cordial relations with the general public of Jammu and Kashmir even as the armed forces are prepared to deal with any threat from Pakistan.
Rawat was speaking at a seminar on cutting edge technology infusion into defence at the Society of Indian Defence Manufacturers here.
“The relations of the armed forces with the general public of Kashmir used to be very cordial in the 70s and 80s. We will keep good relations with the general public. It would be great if that kind of camaraderie between the Army and the general public begins again. We used to meet the general public without guns at that time,” said Rawat.
The Kashmir Valley is under the grip of unprecedented security deployment at present to foil protests following the withdrawal of special category status to the state.
Rawat said the country had nothing to fear irrespective of statements like the one issued by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan that a Pulwama like incident might take place again in Kashmir following the reading down of Article 370 of the Constitution.
“We are always prepared for any kind of eventuality and we are always on the alert. There is nothing to worry from statements like these,” said Rawat.
A suicide bomber killed 40 CRPF personnel at Pulwama in February. The Indian Air Force then bombed a major terrorist hub in Pakistan.
Pakistan has downgraded diplomatic relations with India since Article 370 was axed by the Indian Parliament and legislation passed to divide the state into two union territories. Bilateral trade between the two countries has also been suspended.
Imran Khan had told a joint session of the Pakistan Parliament that a Pulwama like incident might happen again as a result of the recent political developments in Kashmir.
“Attacks like Pulwama are bound to happen again. I can already predict this will happen. They will attempt to place the blame on us again. They may strike us again, and we will strike back,” Khan had said. (IANS)