Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram on Tuesday asked Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley to respect the orders of the Jammu and Kashmir government and call off their planned flag-hoisting in Srinagar by giving up the "path of confrontation".
"I would request the two leaders of the opposition and their colleagues to give up the path of confrontation, return to Delhi and join the celebrations in Delhi on Republic Day," Chidambaram said in a statement issued in New Delhi
"There is no justification whatsoever to push a political agenda that will certainly affect peace and law and order in the state of Jammu and Kashmir," Chidambaram added.
Swaraj and Jaitley - leaders of the opposition in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha respectively - were detained when they arrived in Jammu airport Monday evening. The BJP has planned a 'tiranga yatra' on Republic Day on Wednesday to hoist the national flag in Srinagar's city centre Lal Chowk.
The two leaders, along with Ananth Kumar, were taken into police custody in Jammu Monday night to thwart their plans and taken to Madhopur in Punjab where they were freed.
The Jammu and Kashmir government has said it would not allow the flag hoisting by any political group in Srinagar.
Chidambaram said in his statement: "Yesterday (Monday) I spoke to Arun Jaitley and (Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister) Omar Abdullah."
"I told Jaitley that he and his colleagues had made their point and that they should not defy the orders of the state government, which was the best judge to decide whether there was a threat to law and order and public peace."
The home minister said the BJP leaders were also offered an opportunity to address a press conference at Jammu airport and thereafter, leave the state.
"Regrettably, they turned down the offer," Chidambaram added.
"In the circumstances, the state government had to remove the BJP leaders and take them to Madhopur in Punjab. They were lodged for the night at the Rest House in Madhopur," he said.
"The Government of Jammu & Kashmir has made it clear that it would not allow any yatra to Srinagar; nor would it allow any assembly at Lal Chowk (city centre of Srinagar," the statement said.
The state government, he added, had also made it clear that it would not allow the BJP leaders to cross the bridge connecting Madhopur and Lakhanpur and enter Jammu and Kashmir.
Stating that it "would be most unfortunate if the BJP leaders defy the restrictions placed by the state government or deliberately cause a breach of the peace", Chidambaram said the "BJP leaders should respect the orders passed by the state government".
He drew the BJP leaders' attention to a statement of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Jan 22 and said: "Republic Day is a day of celebration and is not an occasion for divisive politics."