Updated on Sunday, January 30, 2011, 16:50
In a meek surrender to separatists, Omar Abdullah-led Jammu and Kashmir government succeeded in foiling BJP’s effort to hoist the Tricolour at Lal Chowk on Republic Day 2011.
It was for the second consecutive time in the last two decades, the Jammu and Kashmir government broke a convention trying to unfurl the national flag at Lal Chowk.
In 1991-92 then BJP president Murli Manohar Joshi took out the Rastriya Ekta Yatra from Kanyakumari to Srinagar. Breaking the separatist writ, he hoisted the Tricolour on January 26, 1992 for the first time ever at Lal Chowk amidst rocket attacks by militants. Remember, the flag hosting ceremony lasted precisely 13 minutes, surrounded by 80 yatri s and conducted under the chill gaze of an estimated 1000 security men. It was Narasimha Rao-led Congress government at the Centre that provided security for the historic flag hosting ceremony during the height of militancy in Jammu and Kashmir. Since then, the security forces had been hoisting the national flag on Republic Day and Independence Day at the clock tower till 2009.
Much has changed. Last year, the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre was a mute spectator to Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s move to suspend the unfurling of Tricolour by security forces at Lal Chowk. This time the Congress-led Union government went a step ahead and threw its weight behind Omar Abdullah government in foiling BJP’s proposed program to hoist the Tricolour at Lal Chowk.
BJP’s march to unfurl the Tricolour at Lal Chowk was part of its Rashtriya Ekta Yatra launched by party’s youth wing Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM). It was a sequel of the same yatra undertaken by Murli Manohar Joshi in 1991-92. This time Anurag Thakur, the president of BJYM, was spearheading the second edition of the Ekta Yatra.
“Kashmir belongs to India and the whole India belongs to Kashmiris. The pain of Kashmir is the pain of India. We need to feel it,” Anurag said in an exclusive chat with this writer in New Delhi before he left for Kolkata to kick start the Ekta Yatra.
But what prompted the saffron party to replay the Ekta Yatra amidst opposition demand for JPC on 2G scam. Perhaps the present row over Kashmir is the best answer for this. The yatra was launched at a time when anti-national forces are openly endorsing the idea of disintegrating Kashmir from the rest of India. The likes of Arundhati Roy and Syed Ali Geelani continue to make seditious speeches on Kashmir and thoroughly use the right to freedom of expression against the country. And when the secessionists make merry, the Congress-led UPA government is napping. At that point in time BJYM’s Rastriya Ekta Yatra and its proposed flag hoisting program at Lal Chowk was indeed a challenge to the separatist forces.
Rastriya Ekta Yatra-II was flagged off on National Youth Day in Kolkata, the birthplace of legendry Syama Prasad Mookerjee. The two-week long yatra covered 3037 kilometres and traversed through nine states. It was peaceful from the beginning to the end. The yatra was supposed to culminate at Mookherjee’s martyr place Srinagar where BJYM had plans to hoist Tricolour at Lal Chowk. But the yatris were stopped on their way to Srinagar at Punjab-Jammu boarder of Lakhanpur and arrested under Section 144 of IPC by J&K Police for defying the “prohibitory orders” imposed by the state government. The result: Flag was not hoisted at Lal Chowk this year keeping with the writ of the separatists.
It would however be unfair not to see the context. J&K has been passing through a very tumultuous time recently. Looking at the present situation, the flip side of the argument is that would it be correct to rock the J&K boat? Those who believe in that line argue that BJP’s programme could have an adverse impact on the peace of the Valley which has seen an upsurge in violence recently.
Having stated that, we must also remember that last year separatists had flown the Pakistani flag atop Lal Chowk. The Omar Abdullah government was a silent observer to those anti-national crescendos. The state government also preferred to remain mum when Tricolour was burnt in full public display on a number of occasions.
Rashtriya Ekta Yatra has brought the other side of the Kashmir story to the limelight. There is no denial that Kashmir problem is the result of historic blunder committed during the early days of post independence era.
Those in know of political history of Kashmir must be aware of the fact that Kashmir was never under direct British rule. It was a princely state which acceded to India by virtue of a constitutional document called ‘Instrument of Accession’ under the Indian Independence Act, 1947.
Maharaja Hari Singh, then supreme ruler of Jammu and Kashmir signed the Instrument of Succession on October 26, 1947. Though the format of the Instrument of Accession applied to Jammu and Kashmir was the same as was executed for other princely states, then interim Indian government led by Jawaharlal Nehru agreed that ‘final decision’ with regard to the accession would be taken by the Constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir and in the intervening period ‘a temporary provision’ was made in the Constitution of India.
BJP was possibly the first party to voice the national perspective on Kashmir. it. The party is a descendant of erstwhile Bharatiya Jana Sangh founded by Syama Prasad Mookerjee. It was Mookerjee who scripted an uprising with his famous slogan on Kashmir-- Ek desh mein do Pradhan, do Vidhan, do Nishan nahi chalegi, nahi chalegi (The country will never accept a system which allows two Prime Ministers, two Constitutions and two National flags). He went to Kashmir as an Indian citizen but was arrested and jailed in a dilapidated house. He died while in custody.
But when BJP was in power, did the party really remember the sacrifice of Mookerjee from whom it takes inspiration from? Do not forget, it was BJP which backtracked on its ‘commitment’ to abolish the Article 370 with an excuse of ‘compulsion of coalition politics’.
Now, out of power the saffron party sees the need to pick up the issue of abrogation of Article 370.Perhaps of late, the saffron party has realised its mistake of not going with the majority sentiments of Jammu and Kashmir after reeling under two successive Lok Sabha poll defeats. But is BJP really committed to its demand on Article 370?
BJYM’s Rashtriya Ekta Yatra has no doubt made it to the headlines. But will it be able to contribute in real terms to bringing peace, wiping out the tears of the hundreds of thousands voiceless of the Valley or promoting national integration?
(The views expressed by the author in the blog are his/her own)
india`s majority community has to act soon as possible or else india will lose kashmir to pakistan as half of the kashmir has already been lost. india`s majority community (hindus) are not violent unless they are forced to be so, for example, burning the people alive in train in godhra can make any hindu angry, and as a matter of fact, over this kind of matter any community should feel angry, the only people who dont feel angry are cowards who like to put a sticker of gandhism on their forehead, but they forget that tomorrow it might be their turn to be burnt alive). nobody talks about the people who died there in the burning train. india`s youth has to act now. india has been always polite to the minority community since times immemorial, but does being polite means giving up your rights? does it mean letting someone else take over your land and resources? it does not, being polite to minority community simply means live and let live. what troubles me most is why our muslim brothers never showed any anger about the flag hoisting issue in kashmir, why they never said go ahead, let the indian flag honor the land. i never hated muslim, i dont hate muslims, but please my muslim brothers, just help me not hate you. you are also humans, you have family, wife, sister, children. you live in india, then why support these congress who did so many scams and willing to support the political party in kashmir who wants pakistan to take over kashmir. why???? and please keep in mind, i might sound like i am pleading for peace, and i might be. but i wont pleade for my life, it will be someone else, who will be pleading for life. stop making us mad, support india, support the tricolor, hell with religions, think about nation. wake up people, wake up.
Bhupendra Patel - USA
very good blog.
congress along with omar is trying to appease the minority community in evry possible way.
tricolour was burnt and there was no action frm omar`s govt. however he acts so swiftly to avoid unfurling of the tricolour at lalchowk!!
Anand - Bengaluru
i am happy after seeing so my -ve critism in the media some one have come with the +ve sentiments for the support of ekta yatra. i believe those who oppose these kind on national movement should be labelled as anti-national and thrown out of country
Vinamp - Pune
the indians are living in denial about kashmir.it is in india`s interest to let the kashmiris decide their future. india won the battle but unfortunately lost the war in kashmir. india instead of fighting for the kashmiris fought the kashmiris who were caught in the midst of the proxy war between the two nuclear armed neighbours.for the last over 60 years, india`s policy of imposing it`s puppets to govern the kashmiris remotely has backfired. india nominated governors to kashmir like jagmohan and gen. sk sinha who are virulently anti muslim and anti kashmiri. india has lost kashmir forever. hoisting the indian flag on every chowk or even every house in kashmir will not help.
shiraz - Kashmir
brilliant blog.appreciate the pertinent points raised by the author.the ruling upa is guilty of collaborating with the anti- india conglomerate. its a dangerous mindset that needs to be defeated.yes, the bjp`s the then explanation of ``coalition compulsion`` concerning article 370 was simply a facade.the party simply did not try.however, its present effort to hoist the national flag is timely.kashmir is integral to india.the upa just cant force another partition of our country via its dubious brand of politics.lets fight back.wont mind a war even.
Kuna Kayasth - Bhubaneswar