The BJP ministers' conspicuous absence from the wreath laying ceremony at the graveyard of the 1931 martyrs, a gazetted holiday of the state, has sparked a political controversy with the ruling coalition partner Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and opposition National Conference (NC) up in arms.
No BJP leader or around 12 ministers, mainly from the Jammu region, either issued statements in reverence to the 1931 civilian killings during the Dogra monarchy or participated in the government function to pay floral tributes to them in the premises of Srinagar's Naqsbandh Sahib shrine in the old city on Monday. Traditionally, all mainstream parties and those in government pay visit to the graveyard.
In fact, all major mainstream leaders, including leaders from NC, PDP, Congress and CPI(M), on Sunday morning paid tributes to around 13 civilians killed outside Srinagar by the Dogra troops following a political upheaval over desecration of Quran in Jammu in 1931.
All separatist leaders also paid tributes through statements, though their joint march was foiled by the police, which placed most of them under house arrest or detained them.
Both chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and former chief minister Omar Abdullah laid floral bouquets on the graves and described them, in separate statements, as "heroes of Jammu and Kashmir."
"To attend the official function to pay respect to the martyrs was an obligation that the ministers ought to have fulfilled and any deviation from such a precedent was inappropriate," said PDP spokesman Mehboob Beg.
"The martyrs belonged to the state and not to any particular religion, region, caste or creed and their sacrifices must not be forgotten or belittled," said Beg.
NC working president Abdullah also condemned the BJP leaders' move not to attend the official function. "J-K ministers boycott an official state function but the silent Mufti couldn't care less as long as his throne remains intact," wrote Abdullah on Twitter.
Pertinently, no BJP leader in Delhi participated in the iftar party, where Muslims break fast, in New Delhi organised by the PDP. "Bureaucrats in J-K are shocked at the complete absence of any BJP leaders at Mufti's Delhi Iftaar party," wrote Abdullah, in an attempt to take snipe at the coalition government.
In the Valley, civil society has also expressed anger over BJP skipping the official function. "The BJP skipping the event constitutes disrespect to the state's constitution. It is disrespect to the state's composite character and its common political legacy," said author and columnist Arjimand Hussain Talib.
Under fire, the BJP has retracted from the earlier remarks made by its Srinagar-based spokesman Khalid Jehangir where he said: "This event holds no reverence to the party."
"The BJP leaders are in Delhi for a meeting and they could not participate in the event. There was no boycott. This is no big issue. It is just that no BJP leader was in Srinagar," BJP state spokesman Ashok Kaul told Hindustan Times.