Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah on Saturday said he would consult his colleagues to decide his government’s response to the BJP youth activists’ plan to hoist the national flag at Lal Chowk in Srinagar on Republic Day.
Abdullah told HT he was “not opposed to the hoisting of the national flag… I do it myself every year on Independence Day”. However, he questioned the BJP’s intentions.
“When it (BJP) says that J&K is as integral part of India, why is its youth leadership trying to set it apart by planning to hoist the national flag at Lal Chowk in Srinagar?” he asked.
In 1992, the then BJP president Murli Manohar Joshi had unfurled the tricolour at Lal Chowk amid curfew and heavy security.
During the ceremony that had lasted 17 minutes, rockets were fired over the venue. After the flag hoisting, the participants were immediately flown out of Srinagar.
The state government is wary that a repeat 19 years later might disturb peace in the Valley.
Abdullah wondered, “Now that we have had some success in restoring normalcy after a violent summer why did it (hoisting the tricolour) suddenly occur to them this year? Why not last year? Why not on Independence Day?”
The BJP, however, has dug in its heels. The party’s state unit president Shamsher Singh Manhas said “no power on earth” could stop the flag hoisting.
The chief minister is worried about reactions to the BJP’s plans in the Valley as the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front and the moderate faction of the Hurriyat Conference have already expressed their objections to the plan.
Both groups have dared members of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, the BJP’s youth wing, to hoist the tricolour at Lal Chowk.
JKLF chairman Yasin Malik said his group would non-violently oppose the “confrontational attitude of the BJP.”