A day after Bharatiya Janata Party president Nitin Gadkari flagged off the ‘Rashtriya Ekta Yatra' (national integrity movement) in Kolkata to unfurl the tricolour in Srinagar, pro-independence separatist group Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chief Yasin Malik called for a Lal Chowk chalo (march) on January 26.
“People are asked to march peacefully towards Lal Chowk on January 26. Let the world see whose flag will be hoisted in the air,” said Malik.
While flagging off the march in Kolkata, Gadkari on Wednesday said “J-K was an integral part of India and could not be granted freedom or autonomy even if a section of separatist forces was demanding it”.
The march, organised by the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, will pass through 12 states and plan to unfurl the national flag at Lal Chowk in Srinagar on the Republic Day.
“The BJP move is driven by vote bank politics. It intends to push not only Kashmir but also South Asia into a fire pit for its vote bank,” alleged Malik, a militant-turned-politician.
Hardening its tone, Malik said, “Kashmir is nobody's property but a disputed territory. It’s not even a border dispute between India and Pakistan…the BJP should confine its negative politics to Indian boundary only,” said Malik.
He attacked the BJP for its “duplicity”. “When the BJP was ruling the country it started a peace process with Pakistan and knocked at the doors of separatists for dialogue. Now, the same BJP being out of power wants to ruin every effort aimed at resolving the Kashmir issue,” said Malik.
The confrontation between the separatists and the BJP may push Kashmir back into turmoil, just months after recovering from the 2010 five-month summer unrest that started in June. More than 110 protesters and bystanders were killed in street protests in the unrest.
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has warned the BJP against its consequences saying “only the BJP will be responsible for the fallout of the march.”
A senior police officer on the condition of anonymity said, “It will be a security challenge and will definitely stress out forces again.”