On August 15, 2019, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave the 73rd India Independence Day speech. During his speech, Modi announced revoking the Indian Constitution’s Article 370 which gave Indian states such as Jammu, Kashmir, and Ladakh their special status. The previous week, on August 4, India had already put Kashmiris under lockdown. India established several constraints over Kashmir over the week such as the suspension of internet and cellphones or other technological means of long-range communication and established barbed-wires and steel walls. Prime Minister Modi claimed that these states, particularly Kashmir, where the revocation security lockdown is emphasized and the population is mostly Muslim, promoted corruption and injustice towards women and children. Prime Minister Modi also announced that a new law was established that allowed anyone to buy land and live in these regions where the Kashmiris fear could change the culture and demographics. During his speech, Modi also claimed that this change would boost India to a $5 trillion economy within five years. Modi’s speech also led to the Indian National Congress attacking Modi’s speech and actions using tweets with #ModiLiesatRedFort.
For decades, Articles 370 and 35-A encouraged separatism, terrorism, corruption and nepotism. There was no benefit to the common citizens.
But, with the blessings of the people, a positive change has taken place.
In front of the High Indian Commission, Indians and people of Indian descent gathered to celebrate the 73rd Anniversary of India's Independence Day. During the celebrations, Pakistani and Kashmiri protesters began to disrupt the celebrations by assaulting the Indians with eggs and water bottles. The protests turned violent and Scotland Yard officers were finally called in. The protesters threw stones at the Indian mission and Indian tricolor. Their protest was against Modi for removing Kashmir’s special status. The event led to a mass of initial celebrators, Kashmiri, Sikh, and Pakistani protesters, counter-protesters and the officers. The anti-India protesters waved Kashmiri and Pakistani flags and chanting slogans proclaiming their disdain for Modi while the counter-protesters waved the Indian tricolor flags. The clash ended in one person being injured and four protesters were arrested.
In preparation for the 73rd India Independence Day, also the first independence day following the Kashmir security lockdown, security arrangements were made in Delhi and the Red Fort. There was also an increase of security measures made along the Indo-Pakistan border due to rising tension with Pakistan, as Pakistan support the Kashmiri protesters. A multi-layered security ring around the capital was made involving the National Security Guard snipers, elite special weapons and tactics commandos and kite catchers. There was additional personnel from the Special Protection Group, Army paramilitary forces, and Delhi Police. The Red Fort was newly equipped with facial recognition equipment before Modi’s speech.
As Pakistani protesters in London were rallying alongside Kashmiri against a pro-Indian demonstration, in Pakistan, in protest against India’s revocation of Kashmir’s status, held a ‘Black Day’ as opposed to celebrating independence day alongside India. Pakistan backed Kashmiri on opposing India’s new directive to force Kashmir under security lockdown and taking away their statehood and special status. In both Pakistan and Kashmir, ‘Black Day’ is celebrated by hoisting black flags on roofs and vehicles to symbolize the public rejection of India’s new issue. In many cities across Pakistan and Kashmir, as well as in London in front of the High India Commission, protest rallies are held by Pakistanis and Kashmiris against the oppression and subjugation of the Kashmiris. Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan, who heavily supports the Kashmiris, has not only cut trade and transport links with India and has sent back any Indian envoys, but has also stated that he would take the matter to the International Court of Justice. The tension between India and Pakistan has also risen as a result of this incident, as Khan has threatened India with war.
On August 20, 2019, Prime Minister Modi contacted British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to address the issue and threat to the High India Commission. Through their phone conversation, Modi addressed his concerns over the threat of terrorism worldwide and to the importance of addressing effective ways to prevent or repel terrorist acts and violent acts of injustice. Prime Minister Johnson has been able to ensure Modi that steps would be taken to secure the safety of the High India Commission. Pakistani protestors and the stance that Pakistan has taken in response to Modi’s speech was also discussed. Johnson regards the India-Pakistan issue as bilateral and the importance of avoiding violence and instead of hoping to come to a resolution through diplomatic conversation. Both Johnson and Modi have also decided to use this opportunity to strengthen their relations with each other. Both prime ministers have sought to strengthen each other’s successes through their economic and trade relations as well as they are working together to tackle international issues.
In celebration of the 73rd India Independence Day, Twitter launched a new customized emoji called the Ashoka Chakra which is used to celebrate that occasion. It was launched in English, Hindi, Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, Telugu, Punjabi, Marathi, Gujarati, Bengali and Oriya. The emoji is represented with the Dharma Chakra which is the wheel with 24 spokes which is on the Indian National Flag. Shagufta Kamran, the Twitter India Senior Manager Public Policy, discussed the importance of having emojis that can express an idea that is important to Indians. Kamran wanted emojis that could express an idea that can be recognized and celebrated by Indians across the world.