Kashmir not to allow BJP’s flag hoisting


Jammu: Ahead of Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) plan to hoist the national flag at the historic Lal Chowk in Srinagar on Republic Day Jan 26, the Jammu and Kashmir government said Thursday that it would not allow any “programme which has the potential of vitiating the peaceful atmosphere in the state”.

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The announcement was made after a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah in Jammu, a day after his meeting with Congress president Sonia Gandhi and union Home Minister P. Chidambaram in New Delhi.

An official statement, without specifically referring to BJP’s Rashtriya Ekta Yatra, or national unity march, aimed at hoisting the tricolour in Srinagar, said: “The state government has directed the civil and police authorities to ensure that all measures are taken to ensure that the law and order in the state is not disturbed in the run up to the Republic Day celebrations.”

“In a high-level meeting chaired by the Chief Minister Omar Abdullah it was decided that no programme which has the potential of vitiating the peaceful atmosphere in the state will be allowed,” the release said.

An official present in the meeting told IANS that it was felt in the meeting that the BJP’s march had the dangerous potential of disturbing peace in the Valley and arousing passions across the state. “Therefore, it was necessary to stop it.”

The government has decided to stop the BJP’s march at Lakhanpur, the gateway of Jammu and Kashmir, 90 km south of Jammu, said a source.

This would also apply to the separatists who have given a call for march to Lal Chowk in Srinagar on the same day and planned hoisting black flags and staging street protests.

These calls have been given by the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front and the moderate as well as hardline factions of the Hurriyat Conference.

“The meeting reviewed the arrangements and directed that while the Republic Day should be celebrated with full fervour and enthusiasm, the elements who were bent upon disturbing the law and order should be dealt with sternly and the directions to this effect should be passed on to the district authorities as well,” the official release said.

Apart from ministers, the meeting was also attended by Director General of Police Kuldeep Khoda, Principal Secretary (Home) B.R. Sharma, Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) K. Rajindra and other police officers.

Chief Secretary S.S. Kapur and Khoda briefed the meeting about the preparations made by the administration to ensure that Republic Day celebrations pass off peacefully, the official release said.