Srinagar: Back in October 1983, a one-day international cricket match was played between India Vs West Indies in this cricket ground. India batted first but the match was affected due to the protest by Kashmiris who dug the pitch during lunch interval. However the match resumed but the rain ended the match abruptly. Again in September 1986, India played Australia on this very ground and won the match.
Thereafter, the Sher-i- Kashmir stadium was used by National Conference where it held a special session to elect their new president in 2002 while in 2003, the then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee addressed a rally at the ground which was attended by about 20,000 people.
Now, close to two decades later, history is being created at the Sher-i-Kashmir stadium once again as it is all spruced up for the first Independence day celebrations after the Centre abrogated Article 370 and bifurcated Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories.
Though speculations are rife of some senior minister in the NDA government arriving in Srinagar for flag hoisting, the local administration says so far there is no information to suggest that.
With heightened security measures in place all over Kashmir Valley, the entry points to the stadium have been sealed. In fact, the area surrounding the stadium resembles a war zone. Looking straight into the eye, the heavily armed CRPF personnel have a volley of questions to ask any visitor to the stadium. It is only after he reads the body language, goes through the identity card thrice or even more, asks several more questions and only if convinced, will allow the visitor, mostly the media in this case, inside.
The stadium has been completely spruced up and on Tuesday morning, a full dress rehearsal was carried out by contingents of J&K police, CRPF, BSF among other participants.
While the atmosphere outside the stadium was tense, on the inside it was teeming with activity what with women folk and men alike dancing to various songs, preparing for the big day.
“We are performing on a Dogri song,” smiled Chitra who came all the way from Rajasthan while another participant,
Pragya said that they have been practicising on a song that unites the people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh.
“Of course, we have been facing problems as we are not able to contact our families as phones are not working here. We came here three days ago. Though there is tension outside, we are happy and the decision taken by the Centre was historic,” they said.
Senior police officials also visited the stadium and reviewed the security arrangements.
As last minute preparations are on in full swing, it is likely that the children who normally participate in the I-Day celebrations will miss it out this time due to the severe restrictions in place....