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Sunday, September 25, 2022

After bizarre Rihanna counter, now Bollywood bats for militarisation of Kashmir

After being slammed for their similar worded tweets targeting international celebrities and activist like pop icon Rihanna over the months-long farmer protest in the Indian capital New Delhi, Bollywood celebrities are now backing militarisation of Jammu and Kashmir. 

Number of Bollywood stars, who took part in a winter festival organized by the Indian army in ski resort Gulmarg have credited the military for ‘peace’ in the disputed Himalayan region. 

The two-day winter festival witnessed Skiing, Snowmobile, ATV race and snow cycling, besides cultural performances. 

Addressing reporters on the side-lines of the festival, GoC Dagger Division, Virender Vats, said the event was organized to provide a platform to local artists to showcase their talent and to provide a fillip to the tourism industry in Kashmir and lend support to the people who rely on this industry. 

“We are happy that friends from the film industry including Arbaaz Khan, Vidya Balan, and Siddharth Roy Kapoor graced the occasion and provided an encouragement to the local youth since these personalities are achievers in their chosen field.

The Indian army has hosted several such events in the past, but locals have repeatedly said ‘these carefully managed events’ are conducted to divert the global attention on rights abuses in the region. 

Last year, an Indian army officer killed three youths from Rajouri during a staged encounter in Shopian. The local police in the chargesheet have noted that the trio were killed in cold blood for a cash reward of 200,000 INR.  

Bollywood actor Arbaaz Khan while talking with the reporters thanked the Indian Army and said that it was an honour to be among the brave hearts in Kashmir.  

“Few of the Bollywood movies/ albums were shot here recently and with a great atmosphere here more people will come. Everything here is very safe and secure because of the Indian Army,” he said. 

Kashmir saw months-long clampdown and internet ban after India unilaterally revoked the special status of the region on August 5, 2019. 

Thousands of people including children were arrested in the lead up and following the abrogation of autonomy, under a law that allows detention without trial for up to two years. 

Meanwhile, an Army spokesperson in a statement said that the event was organized after two years and aptly announced the re-opening of Kashmir to the world.

The spokesman said that the Indian Army has always maintained a great connection with the local people and this is yet another instance of the Army supporting the aspirations of people for a future of hope, prosperity & peace in the valley.

Reporting on the event, a local publication noted that the actors said ‘Kashmir was safe in the hands of army’. A nuclear flash point Indian-administered Kashmir is the highest militarized zone in the world.

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