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Sher-i-Kashmir ICC renamed, National Conference said ‘You cannot erase our biggest leader from collective memory’

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Ground Report | Srinagar

The Jammu and Kashmir administration  dropped “Sher-e-Kashmir”, the title attributed to the first chief minister of J&K Sheikh Abdullah, from Sher-i-Kashmir International Conference Centre (SKICC) and renamed it as Kashmir International Conference Centre.

Located on the banks of Dal Lake, the state-managed convention centre has hosted a number of international and national level conferences like interstate council meet, an international laparoscopic conference among others. The website, however, still carries the old name. SKICC is located on the bank of the famous Dal Lake overlooking the Zabarwan mountain range in the backdrop and in the neighbourhood of Mughal Gardens. 

The state-managed convention centre is first choice of many for hosting national and international events and is considered as focal point in organizing high profile conferences and meets. Despite change in name, the website of the prestigious convention centre is using the old one.

The SKICC was turned into a subsidiary jail since scrapping of the special status of J&K under Article 370 on August 5 last year. Among those detained at the SKICC were People’s Conference chairman Sajad Lone, senior PDP leader Naeem Akhtar, PDP’s youth wing president Waheed ur Rehman Para, senior NC leader Ali Mohammad Sagar, and bureaucrat-turned-politician Shah Faesal.

Earlier, the UT administration has cancelled two public holidays on December 5 and July 13. December 5 is commemorated as the birth anniversary of Sheikh Abdullah while July 13 was observed as Martyrs’ Day in Jammu and Kashmir. On that date in 1931, 22 Kashmiris were killed outside the Srinagar Central Jail, where they had assembled to protest against autocratic Dogra rulers.

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The new holiday was on October 26, the date in 1947 when the former state of Jammu and Kashmir acceded to the Dominion of India. A day later, Indian troops reached Srinagar to drive out tribal raiders.

The new holiday was on October 26, the date in 1947 when the former state of Jammu and Kashmir acceded to the Dominion of India. A day later, Indian troops reached Srinagar to drive out tribal raiders. October 27 is observed as a Black Day in Kashmir, marked with a shutdown.

The internet clampdown has also been lifted partially in the Valley, with broadband and data services at 2G speed resuming from February. Recently, the administration also lifted social media restrictions.

National Conference condemned the move.

In a statement, the party said it “unequivocally condemns the act and calls upon the saner voices to stop targetting the biggest leader of the sub-continent who cannot be erased from our collective memory.”

Senior Congress leader Saifuddin Soz also condemned the removal of Sheik Abdullah’s title from Sher-i-Kashmir International Convention Centre (SKICC) and making it International Conference Complex. He said Kashmir did not have a culture of changing name of historical places. He said the people of Kashmir never changed the names of old institutions, roads, etc, as these happened to be part of history. “So, Hari Parbat, Jogi Lankar, Amar Singh College, Sri Pratap College, SMHS Hospital, Vishwa Bharti College, Gandhi Memorial College and dozens of other titles of institutions have continued to be the same,” Soz said in a statement.

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He said, “It is unfortunate that the current administration, even though, it is an intermediary arrangement before the elections, continues to change the names of institutions when it does not have the mandate for this process.”
“Now, it has changed the title of SKICC. We know very well that we have fallen to the very bad times; but, we did not know that the government has become so impatient to impair every element of our identity, before it completes its tenure,” he said. “One wonders whether this dispensation understands what way the national interest could be served best,”.

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