“J&K LG Manoj Sinha becomes the first Head of State to visit downtown Srinagar in 75 years.”
Link to reports of the claim can be read here
“I was told by local people that first time in 75 years any head of the state visited Srinagar downtown. They said many areas were known for the wrong reasons. But, I believe Srinagar downtown has shed its past and it is now a new address of Indian sporting heroes,” Greater Kashmir quoted Lt. Governor as saying in an official statement issued to media. Sinha made the remark while inaugurating the indoor sports stadium in the Elahi Bagh area of downtown in Srinagar.
Soon after the report was published by Greater Kashmir on September 7, various tweets poured in, contesting the claim that Lt. Governor Manoj Sinha was the first head of the state to visit Downtown (Sheher e Khaas) in the last 75 years.
To assess how viral the claim is, Newschecker conducted a keyword search of the words ‘Governor visited downtown’ on Twitter and found a tweet by senior journalist Ananya Bhardwaj’s tweet on Sept. 7 with the same claim, carrying two photographs of Lt. Governor Manoj Sinha interacting with the local youth.
Link to the tweet here
Several journalists and social activists responded to Ananya Bhardwaj’s tweet, pointing out that the claim was false.
Newschecker then verified if there other governors visited downtown in the past. We found several reports dated August 20, 2018 about former governor J&K, N N Vohra’s visit to downtown. Vohra was governor of J&K from 2008 to 2018.
“Governor N.N. Vohra undertook an extensive tour of Downtown Srinagar and visited various places, including Hazratbal, Jamia Masjid, Naqashband Sahib and Dastgeer Sahib” the reports read.
We then reached out to Zareef Ahmad Zareef, a renowned historian from J&K, who clarified that Bhagwan Sahai, who was governor of Jammu and Kashmir during 1970’s, often visited educational institutions in the valley.
“Sahai many times visited Islamia School Razia Kadal (heart of downtown) to attend their yearly functions. He was very much connected to people on the ground” he said.
Zareef also recalled that Braj Kumar Nehru, who was the governor of J&K in 1980’s also visited downtown many times. “Kashmir was not always disturbed. It was peaceful before the militancy in the 90’s. There was peace, harmony and brotherhood. Governors, Chief Ministers regularly visited shrines and historical places in downtown. Former governor Braj Kumar Nehru, who happens to be a relative of Indira Gandhi, visited downtown on different occasions,” said Zareef Ahmad Zareef.
“It was only after the disturbance since1990’s that heads of government rarely visited downtown over security reasons. Even N N Vohra, the previous governor, visited many shrines in downtown Srinagar in the recent past and took stock of the developmental works in downtown areas,” he added.
To ascertain the facts more, Newschecker also contacted renowned journalist Yusuf Jameel, who clarified that the claim was false.
“Governors have hardly visited downtown due to security reasons post 1990’s, but prior to 90’s, many governors have visited areas in downtown Srinagar. They used to visit Soura medical institute and other places as well. As far as I remember, former governor L K Jha, who was governor of J&K before 1980, used to make few personal visits to someone in Soura and other areas.”
Jameel also pointed out that Manoj Sinha visited Elahi Bagh which does not fall in the downtown area. The neighborhood that is generally considered the downtown ends with Noushera, which is 4km away from Elahi Bagh. The distance between Srinagar Downtown and Elahi Bagh can be seen in the map below.
Referring to the tweets that pointed out that several chief ministers visited downtown Srinagar in the past, Jameel pointed out that a distinction had to be made between the ‘Head of State’ and ‘Head of the Government’. “These are two separate points, one, there is mention of ‘head of the state’ in the government press note, and it is with reference to the governor only. Chief minister is only the head of the government. Comparing the Chief Minister’s position with the governor is wrong,” he said.
Investigation by Newschecker has found that the claim that Lt. Governor Manoj Sinha was the first head of state who visited downtown Srinagar in the last 75 years, is factually incorrect. Our investigation reveals that several heads of state have visited downtown Srinagar in the past, and that the region visited by LG Manoj Sinha does not fall in the downtown neighborhood.
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