BJP’s bid to unfurl the tricolour at Srinagar’s Lal Chowk on Republic Day led to high drama on Tuesday when Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, along with other BJP leaders, were arrested soon after they entered Jammu and Kashmir.
Swaraj and Jaitley, who were leading a procession of around 500 flag-waving, slogan-shouting BJP workers, crossed the old iron bridge over the Ravi river that separates Madhopur in Punjab from Lakhanpur in Jammu at around 5pm.
They were immediately stopped by the police and booked for violating prohibitory orders. Swaraj and Jaitley have been kept at a guesthouse in Kathua.
"Why are we being arrested? We were marching peacefully. Those who burn the national flag are being provided security while those holding the national flag are being stopped," Swaraj said while she was being escorted to the guesthouse.
Jaitley said the arrests will in no way prevent the BJP from hoisting the national flag at Lal Chowk. "We’ll go to Kashmir," he said.
Thousands of our youth activists have reached Jammu. Some have even reached Srinagar. When a BJP youth wing worker waves the flag in Srinagar on Wednesday, it will be a slap in the state government’s face that has tried hard to prevent our entry.”
At a meeting in Madhopur before venturing into Jammu, Swaraj slammed CM Omar Abdullah. “He said there were security issues. We don’t want your security. Just don’t stop us. We will hoist the flag and return home, or we will get killed.” This was the BJP leaders’ second attempt to enter Kashmir. On Monday, Jaitley and Swaraj were held soon after they had landed in Jammu, and sent packing to Madhopur.