New Delhi: The employees of the Kashmir’s government have been allegedly asked to ‘anyhow’ seek money from the common masses so they could be provided with national flags to be put on their houses ahead of Independence Day. The verbal diktat, mostly for municipality officers, has asked them to collect rupees 20 from each household.
An employee from the Anantnag Municipal Committee said “strict action may follow on those employees who may not be able to distribute these national flags to all households in their assigned wards”.
“I oversee two wards of Anantnag town and each has almost 150 households. I have been provided with 300 flags to be sold to these houses. If I am unable to, there is a strong possibility that they may deduct rupees 6000 from my salary,” a senior municipality officer said.
He added that there was a meeting with higher officials recently. “One of our senior officers even stood up in the meeting, countering this flag distribution plan. He told the higher officials that there are many households whose sons have been killed in the police or the army firing. They may get enraged and obviously not take these flags from us. One of the senior officers told him, “Naukri karni hai toh karo, warna ghar betho (either do your job or sit home).”
Most of South Kashmir is vibrant with national flags set up across the roads and bridges, especially in district Anantnag. The main Khanabal-Pahalgam road, which is also a default route for Amarnath Yatra, has a set of twin flags attached to every electric pole at a regular distance of 10 to 12 feet. This has been done for tens of kilometers.
Earlier, amid criticism pouring against the enforcement of Tiranga in Kashmir, Municipal Committee Anantnag employees were seen putting up the tricolor across the town in the dead of the night.
“This has been done to avoid any resentment as streets are thronged throughout the day. At night, there is complete security, patrolling parties of CRPF are on the roads, so we did it in the night itself”, one of the employees overlooking this flag installation told India Ahead.
The employee quoted first said that this was also done to protect the identities of the workers attaching the flags. “At night, no one really sees you. All these are local workers. They feel scared,” he said.
The Jammu and Kashmir government has been making elaborate preparations across districts for imminent independence day. The government is also mulling on installing a tricolor in every house of J&K as a part of the Independence Day celebrations.
Earlier a seven-member committee headed by the Financial Commissioner (Additional Chief Secretary), Home Department was formed to look over this flag installing campaign. The initiative is in line with Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav where India celebrates 75 years of Independence.
Meanwhile, the locals also fear retaliation by the terror groups in case they install such flags. “This looks like a double-edged sword. If we deny it, we may become victims at the hands of the state and if we do it, we will be victims of militants,” a local Irfan Ahmed from the Tral area, a former bastion of Hizbul Mujahideen, said.
The flag installation scheme is to be celebrated nationwide with almost 26 crore households expected to put the national flag on their houses. District administrations in J&K have assigned duties to various officers from various departments to facilitate the initiative. Specific nodal officers have been designated for the same.