BJP leaders on Sunday reiterated their determination to hoist the national flag in Srinagar on January 26, even as Jammu and Kashmir governor NN Vohra echoed the prime minister’s tacit appeal to the BJP to call off its plan.
BJP leader Arun Jaitley called the opposition to the flag hoisting a “denial of free expression” while veteran leader LK Advani, in his blog, urged the government not to surrender before the separatists every citizen’s right to raise the national flag.
In a counterpoint Governor Vohra released a statement saying “peace, harmony and amity should be maintained” at all costs, and no political issue must be allowed to mar the celebration of a joyous event like Republic Day.
The Omar Abdullah-led state government has already made it clear that the BJP’s youth wing, the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, which is spearheading this programme, will not be allowed to hoist the flag. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday also appealed against using Republic Day to score political points or promote divisive agendas.
An unmoved Advani, however, recalled in his blog that it was during the BJP-led NDA’s rule that the flag code had been amended to give private citizens too the right to unfurl the tricolour, but also underlined that it was a Congress MP Naveen Jindal’s effort that led to the amendment.
“The Kashmir government claims to have sealed all the borders of the State. Large-scale arrests of BJP workers are being made,” said Jaitley. “The sealing of borders of a state to prevent a peaceful political expression is undemocratic and unacceptable.”
Jaitley pointed out that while separatists were allowed to propagate their views in Delhi in the name of free expression, the same right was being denied to nationalist youth who wanted to hoist the flag.
On his blog, Advani quoted a report stating the Pakistani flag was hoisted at Lal Chowk in Srinagar last year on Eid to point to the “enormity of shame our authorities are inviting for themselves by this decision” of not allowing flag-hoisting.