IAF’s Forceful Integration Of Nationalism In Kashmir

The skies over Srinagar city roared with fighter jets and helicopters, during a spectacular air show organized by IAF (Indian Air Force) along the banks of Dal Lake on 26th September. The air show “Azadi Ka Mahotsav” (Give Wings to your dreams) instead of having enthralling Kashmiri audiences, was witnessed by Indian tourists along with school children from across the valley at the Sher-e-Kashmir International Conference Centre (SKICC). “As part of the ongoing celebrations to commemorate ” Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav”, Air Force Station (based in Srinagar organized an airshow at the Dal Lake,” the Ministry of Defense said.

The event was flagged by JK Governor Manoj Sinha, witnessed by several tourists from across India. As a result infuriating Kashmiris took to the digital spaces expressing their discontentment against the Indian government’s execution of forceful occupational tactics in the valley.

“The Indian government time and again whitewashes the on-ground Kashmiri narrative and puts no stone unturned in othering the voices of Kashmiris through digital censorship. The air show was yet another propaganda of the forced inculcation of Kashmir with India. India perpetuates and instills nationalism through organizing these events, however despite their colonial attempts we will continue to resist”, says Iqra (name changed), a college student from Srinagar.

Apart from expressing their criticism against the Indian government, many Kashmiri journalists made use of social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook to show their rage against India’s attempt to colonize Kashmir. The show was organized after 14 years in the valley, triggering huge controversy and criticism among the K- Twitter (Kashmir Twitterati). Kashmiri Netizens stated it as colonial propaganda to dehumanize and mislead “Kashmir’s right to self-determination”.

One of the Twitter users while replying to the video from the air show sarcastically wrote; “India faced international embarrassment when Pakistan shot down wing commander Abhinandan along with fighter jet. It raised many questions on IAFS competency and to avoid further embarrassment they have decided to train its men over the Dal Lake in Kashmir.

According to a national daily, the event was to mark the eve of India’s 75 years of independence. As per the statement from the Ministry of Defense, the show witnessed a gathering of 10,000 people including 5,000 students from local schools. The display was performed along the banks of the Dal.

“It’s important to know the reactions of people about the Air show. They created only noise here, and disrupted public movement, doing air shows doesn’t change the reality of Kashmiris’ suffering,” locals told the Kashmiriyat a local paper based in the valley.

A video went rounds on the internet showcasing the opinions of localities in view of the “airshow”, one of the locals (name unknown) said, “Tourists rarely visit Kashmir due to consecutive lockdown imposed in the valley, we Kashmiris have been suffering and enduring years of trauma caused by the conflict and human rights violations in the valley along with the consecutive lockdowns due to pandemic”.

As stated in the wire, earlier this year similarly schools across the valley had been ordered by the Chief Education officers (CEOs) of their districts to celebrate Independence Day at the institutional level.

“Despite strict Covid protocol norms at the place schools were instructed to hoist the tricolor, we were at the brink of receiving suspension orders in case we didn’t participate in the independence day event, this is the democratic functioning of Indian intuitions, said one of the school teachers from Shopian (name anonymous).

As per official records, all the educational institutions across the valley had been closed since August 5, 2019, initially due to the lockdown post removal of the Article370and later due to COVID 19 restrictions. According to the Covid restrictions the order issued by the government post-August 8 stated “the maximum number of people allowed to witness a gathering shall be restricted to 25”, however, given the independence day, despite strict Covid protocols as per the official records there are 28,863 government schools in Jammu and Kashmir, reports state that independence Day functions were held in all schools this year.

We are suffering losses since August 5 2019 Tourists rarely visit the valley post abrogation of the Article, due to the consecutive lockdowns. The airshow blocked the roads, creating a huge ruckus, our livelihood is dependent on the people walking on streets, the airshow disrupted our daily earnings, said another local vendor.

People are already suffering in the hands of the Modi government, conducting the show doesn’t ease the pain and the oppression Kashmiri’s have to face under the Indian occupation”, said Jibran Naveed a 22-year-old, local of dal lake.

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