Trainload of Valley-bound flag hoisters taken for a ride
Even as the war of words over the BJP’s plan to hoist the national flag at Srinagar’s Lal Chowk on January 26 grew shriller on Sunday, the railway administration tricked a trainload of BJP youth activists travelling to Kashmir to take part in ceremony into returning home.
When a special Jammu-bound train from Bangalore carrying around 2,000 Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) — the BJP’s youth wing — activists halted at Sakola in Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar district around 2am on Sunday, railway officials blacked out the entire station.
Under cover of darkness they detached the train’s engine from the first coach and transferred it to the train’s rear through other tracks, attaching it to the last coach instead. The train departed without the activists realising what had happened.
It was only when the train reached the next station, Akkalkot on the Maharashtra-Karnataka border that the activists figured out that they were heading back home.
The furious youth activists blocked the tracks for more than five hours at Akkalkot but were finally persuaded to let the train return to Bangalore.
The flag-hoisting is planned as a culmination of the BJYM’s Tiranga Yatra that began from Kolkata on January 12. While J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah has vowed to prevent the flag-hoisting — claiming it would needlessly provoke the separatists — Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday appealed against it, saying Republic Day should not be used to promote divisive agendas.
In response, BJP leader Arun Jaitley said, “It is a matter of national regret that the PM should regard the hoisting of the national flag as something which could be considered divisive or provocative.”
(With HTC, Delhi)