Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
SRINAGAR: Even as Prime Minister’s Office had cleared their names and finalised the schedule of the speeches at Narendra Modi’s rally at midnight on Friday, Minister of Animal Husbandry Sajjad Gani Lone and BJP’s Jammu and Kashmir State President and Lok Sabha member from Jammu were perplexed at their omission at the eleventh hour at the rally at Sher-e-Kashmir International Cricket Stadium on Saturday. Even Deputy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Singh was removed as speaker but allowed to replace Jugal for vote of thanks.
General Administration Department’s document accessed by STATE TIMES made it clear that Prime Minister would arrive at the venue at 1130 hours. PDP President Mehbooba Mufti would deliver a welcome speech for 2 minutes. It would be followed by Sajjad Lone’s speech for 3 minutes and Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh’s speech for 3 minutes. At 1138 hours, Chief Minister Mufti was scheduled to start his 15 minute speech.
Prime Minister’s speech was fixed from 1153 hours to 1228 hours to be followed by 2-minute vote of thanks by Jugal Kishore.
However, the schedule underwent a mysterious alteration in the morning. Sources insist that Prime Minister did not want Deputy Chief Minister to deliver the speech. He instead wanted that Nirmal Singh should only read out a vote of thanks at the end. Thus, Nirmal Singh replaced Jugal Kishore. According to the well-placed sources, a senior PDP leader was “bitterly averse” to Sajjad Lone, the Peoples Conference chairman, delivering a speech at the PM’s rally.
Consequently, neither Jugal Kishore nor Sajjad Lone were called out for their speeches though both of them had been asked to be prepared for it at their given time.
Mehbooba used Jugal Kishore’s and Sajjad Lone’s time to make a longer and soulful speech. The changes, according to sources, caused huge embarrassment to both the BJP leaders as well as the PC Chairman and Cabinet Minister who is claimed to be the topmost contributor of around 3,000 participants to the rally.
Sources revealed that more than 5,000 participants were Policemen in civvies, Government employees of different departments, including Anganwari Workers and Helpers, who had all been given special passes from a Police officer. Even a group of labourers and workers from Bihar, UP and Punjab were found to have been given these passes as they had occupied the front space.
When some mediapersons got suspicious and began quizzing these labourers in the front rows, some PDP activists rushed to the spot and forced them to shift to the midst of the Stadium ground. However, outside near Radio Kashmir, they displayed their entry passes and alleged that they had been forcibly lifted by Police and PDP workers and forced to attend the Prime Minister’s rally.
DIG Central Kashmir Ghulam Hassan Bhat admitted that “some Policemen in civvies” were present in the rally but he argued that they had been deployed for security reasons. He insisted that their number was “negligible”.
However, at least four Constables and SPOs spoke to STATE TIMES and revealed that they had been brought in vehicles from all the Police districts, 100 to 400 from each Police district, and asked to occupy space on the ground. “We stayed at PCR for the night. In the morning, we were dropped at Rajbagh and asked to proceed on foot to the rally venue. We were given packed breakfast but no lunch, refreshment or money for the day”, one of them said.
The Policemen and Anganwari Workers said that they had been assured that PM would announce either doubling their honorarium or their regularisation in government service. Neither of the two happened. “They retained our entry passes but some of us gave them a slip and retained the passes in our possession”, one of the SPOs said. He claimed that no security duty instructions were given to the Policemen other than those on regular roaster of duty.
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