Jammu and Kashmir, which will become a Union Territory after the bifurcation of the state, celebrated its first and India's 73rd Independence Day on Thursday, August 15, 2019. While there are reports of "incident free" and "peaceful" celebrations with fervour and zeal across the Valley, British Indian novelist Salman Rushdie claimed that the ongoing atrocity in Kashmir has not left much to celebrate on this August 15.
Taking to Twitter, 72-year-old Rushdie wrote, "Even from seven thousand miles away it’s clear that what’s happening in Kashmir is an atrocity. Not much to celebrate this August 15th".
Even from seven thousand miles away it’s clear that what’s happening in Kashmir is an atrocity. Not much to celebrate this August 15th.— Salman Rushdie (@SalmanRushdie) August 15, 2019
Rushdie's remarks comes on the heels of the government's decision to revoke Article 370 of the Constitution, which led to a low-key Independence Day celebration in Kashmir with various restrictions and security arrangements imposed in the city.
On August 5, the Centre stripped Jammu and Kashmir of its special status given under Article 370 and split it into two Union Territories - Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, which will come into existence on October 31.
The move has further escalated the already heightened tension with Pakistan and triggered polarised views in India itself. While various political leaders, Bollywood stars and foreign dignitaries congratulated the Modi-led BJP government for the historic decision, others condemned the same, anticipating more atrocities and violence in near future.
Rushdie's relationship with India has often been troubled with his works creating controversies and receiving extremely violent reactions from across the country. His controversial 1988 book The Satanic Verses, which provoked a religious opinion or fatwa, from the Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini calling for the author's killing as punishment for blasphemy, is still banned in India.
In 2012, an appearance by Rushdie, at the Jaipur literary festival had to be cancelled after protests from Indian Muslim groups. The incident provoked fears for free speech in India and criticism of the government.