Jammu, March 13 (PTI) Within a day of issuing it, the Mufti Mohmmad Sayeed government today withdrew the controversial order on state flag after drawing the ire of Congress but PDP's alliance partner BJP downplayed the issue.
Government also said that appropriate administrative action will be taken after enquiry into the circumstances leading to the issuance of the circular.
The circular put out yesterday enjoined upon all the Constitutional Authorities to maintain the sanctity of the State Flag, at all costs, as is being done in respect of the Union Flag.
Jammu and Kashmir has a separate constitution and separate flag unlike other states under special status.
"All the Constitutional Authorities are enjoined upon to maintain the sanctity of the State Flag, at all costs, as is being done in respect of the Union Flag", Commissioner Secretary to Government, General Administration Department (GAD), J&K, M A Bukhari said in the circular.
He said, "the Flag shall always be hoisted jointly on the buildings housing Constitutional Institutions and shall be used on the official cars of Constitutional Authorities".
Any deviation in this regard shall amount to insult to the Jammu and Kashmir Prevention of Insult to State Honors Act, 1979, he said.
J&K Deputy Chief Minister and BJP leader Nirmal Singh said,"It was surprising for us, including the Chief Minister [Mufti Mohammad Sayeed] that a circular has been issued with regard to the state flag. We don't know who did it. That is why the circular was withdrawn."
An official spokesman said, "The draft of the circular was not approved by the Competent Authority before issue of the same on 12th March, 2015 and as such stands withdrawn with immediate effect".
"Appropriate administrative action will be taken after enquiry into the circumstances leading to the issuing of this circular", he added.
Coming out against the circular, Congress said, "From day one PDP is the stick holder. It is pushing its agenda on Kashmir. BJP seems to have compromised on its basic ideology."
"BJP has surrendered to the PDP.... PM owes an explanation as he strongly batted for patriotism in Parliament a few days back," Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC), Dr Rashid Choudhary told reporters here.
"With the Mufti government's advisory pertaining the state flag BJP stands exposed before the people of Jammu region and the country for its double standards," he said.
BJP, however, sought to downplay the controversy and said that some political parties were making a "mountain out of a molehill."
"The controversy sought to be raised with regard to the circular is not justified. It is like making a mountain out of a molehill," chief spokesperson of the BJP's state unit Sunil Sethi said.
"As per the Delhi Agreement of 1952, it had been provided by Clause IV that the state of Jammu and Kashmir will have its own flag, keeping in view the historical background, and it will be displayed along with the national flag," he said.
"This is also the stated position of law as on today and it has only been notified in the circular," Sethi said, adding that it was neither a new law nor a new provision.
Sethi said, "Some political parties and organizations are making it an issue but they should remember that both the flags have been displayed together since 1952 by successive governments in Jammu and Kashmir and by all ministers, legislators of all political parties."
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah, however, questioned the state government's decision to withdraw the circular, saying the order was "correct" and "timely".
Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers party (JKNPP) hit out at the BJP for "sitting silent over the issue" and said Prime Minister should clear the air.
As per the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir and the Delhi Agreement of 1952 and keeping in view the historical background, the State Flag has the same sanctity and position as the Union Flag has under the Indian Constitution and other statutory provisions, the circular said.
"Therefore, this sanctity and position has to be maintained at all costs. It's non-hoisting along with the Union Flag amounts to insult to the Flag as per the Provisions of the Jammu and Kashmir Prevention of Insult to State Honors Act 1979", it said.