India will celebrate its 66th Independence Day on 15th August, 2013. August 15th is a national holiday in India for its Independence Day celebrations. This day commemorates India’s independence from British rule in 1947.
The celebrations are marked by the hoisting of the Indian national flag by the Prime Minister of India at the Red Fort, as well as by the Chief Ministers in their respective state capitals. The flag hoisting is followed by an Independence Day parade in the Indian capital, and cultural events are held all over India. Government offices, businesses and schools in India remain closed.
How Indian Independence Day is celebrated in Indian Occupied Kashmir:
‘How is the Independence day celebrated in Kashmir?’, an Indian friend once asked me.
“Dogs sleeping at Lal Chowk, Srinagar under the shadow of the tricolor, surrounded by armed men in Uniform; Kashmiris enjoying their day off; children playing cricket on deserted roads; puppets organizing puppetry shows guarded by unmanned airborne vehicles; snipers; gun totting watchful eyes; sniffing dogs; bulletproof vehicles and forced gatherings of school kids, plus jokers unfurling the Indian tricolor and unwilling legs doing a march past”… and remember, it is rather celebrated as a Black Day in Kashmir, not as Independence Day”, I replied.
For Kashmir it is just any other day; no festivities around, but a pale of gloom, as India’s independence had brought miseries into the lives of Kashmir’s people. It is rather a menace every Kashmiri wants to get rid of.
The Bakshi Stadium, the main venue for the celebrations of 15th August, virtually remains sealed by a large contingent of police and CRPF personnel, while special checkpoints are set up at various places within the city and its outskirts, especially the entry points leading to the capital.
In almost every Indian state, it is celebrated with great fervor, but in Kashmir it is just another holiday with no traffic plying on the roads except the Indian army vehicles. The whole telecommunication network remains blocked. At a few places, the politicians and officials from the police and the Indian army hoist the Indian flag, followed by an enforced parade by the school children, while the inhabitants of the valley are put under a civil curfew. Children and the young find it an opportunity to play cricket, while the old bask in the sun amid politically hot discussions revolving around Kashmir, Pakistan and India. But fear looms around.
In and around the parade ground, there remains a high security vigil, the whole area is under seal, the high rise buildings are occupied by sharp shooters while the owners are dragged out from their houses for ‘security purposes’. Concertina wires are laid around the locality and at the entry and exit points to various other localities, adding to the miseries of common masses, just to ensure a smooth conduct of India’s Independence Day.