Modi’s Kashmir rally: 7 key facts

Days before Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Kashmir, police raided several places across the region detaining hundreds of political leaders and activists to prevent the counter “Million March” called by an anti-India resistance group.

Here are seven key facts about Modi’s visit:-

1: Venue: Modi is scheduled to address a joint rally of BJP and PDP workers at a Sher-e-Kashmir cricket ground in Srinagar. It is the same place where Indian cricket team faced humiliation, 28 years ago, while playing against West Indies in 1983. Indian players had been feted as ‘heroes’ for winning the World Cup in the same year. But the response they got from Kashmir spectators in ground was a shock for them. Some in the crowd waved pictures of Pakistani players, and at least one report said that an apple was thrown at Dilip Vengsarkar.

2: Crackdown: While Modi would address the rally, state apparatus will shut the entire internet services including broadband. Most parts of Old City will face curfew-like restrictions. In the last few days, police launched a massive crackdown against anti-India leaders and detained more than 300 activists, leaders and former militants from different parts of the Valley. The arrest spree began after the head of an anti-India resistance group called for a march to a ground near the rally venue of Modi.

3: Arresting lawmaker: It is for the first time that the government has also detained a member of the region’s legislative assembly ahead of Indian prime minister’s visit to the disputed region. The lawmaker from remote Langate constituency, Engineer Abdul Rashid, had threatened to welcome Modi with black flags. Rashid has blamed the PM for the Gujarat massacre and the incidents of intolerance in India. Legislator Rashid was arrested at Dangiwacha in North Kashmir.

4: Expectation: Peoples Democratic Party leaders have billed Modi’s second visit to Kashmir valley will be “turning point” in Kashmir’s history. PDP expects Modi to announce a package of INR 92,000 crore ($13.7bn) for public infrastructure and for the victims of devastating floods which caused an estimated $17bn of damage. But a report in an Indian daily states that an important part of the economic package will be for the internally displaced people, which include Kashmir Pandits, and for refugees from Pakistan.

4: Past: During Modi’s last visit to the disputed region, New Delhi-based Economic Times reported: “Kashmiris, in their dishevelled pherans, started leaving the venue immediately as Modi began to passionately talk about his great love for the land of Kashmir. Modi, himself wearing an immaculate pheran to make a political statement, was completely oblivious to the restive army of pherans that was clamouring to get outside. Initially, the policemen, under strict orders from their handlers inside, refused to allow anyone to leave the venue. The massed obstreperous crowd, scampering from entrance to concertina-wire-barred entrance, was turning recalcitrant and started hooting and shouting.”

6: Attendance: During the rally at the same venue last year, despite presence of many local Muslim leaders, despite a tremendous buildup, despite the media hype, despite everything, not many turned out. Modi grandly told the audience he was elated to see large numbers, but his please-all euphoria was in stunning contrast to the many empty plastic seats that spoke eloquently of Kashmir’s immense emptiness.

7: Filling the chairs: Accusing the regime of ordering government employees to attend Modi’s rally, former chief minister Omar Abdullah said this is being done because PDP workers are reluctant to attend the function. “Similar instructions given to SPOs, Anganwari workers & daily wagers to make up the numbers for PM’s rally because PDP workers were reluctant,” Abdullah wrote on micro-blogging site twitter. Two PDP Member Parliamentarians from Srinagar and Baramulla constituencies would skip the rally. Reports stated that last year when Modi visited Kashmir, the audiences at that rally were given INR 2000 each by the BJP.