Standoff on Lal Chowk flag hoisting intensifies

The standoff between BJP and Jammu and Kashmir government on hoisting of the national flag at Lal Chowk in Srinagar on the Republic Day intensified.

Srinagar/New Delhi: The standoff between
BJP and Jammu and Kashmir government on hoisting of the
national flag at Lal Chowk in Srinagar on the Republic Day
intensified on Friday with the party adamant on going ahead with
the event while the state administration vowing to stop any
effort to vitiate the atmosphere.

BJP said it was going ahead with the hoisting of the
flag at Lal Chowk as unfurling the tricolour was its
sovereign right.
"We are committed to a peaceful Ekta Yatra and we are
going ahead with our programme (to hoist the national flag at
Lal Chowk).... political parties have a right to hoist the
national flag," Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun
Jaitley told reporters in Delhi.

He maintained that the government was objecting to
hoisting of the tricolour but had allowed separatists to air
their views in the name of free speech.

On Jammu and Kashmir Chief Omar Abdullah`s appeal not to
take the Ekta Yatra to Srinagar, Jaitley said "Omar has given
it more publicity (by opposing it)...But he has only been
talking at the BJP."

In Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir police chief Kuldeep Khoda
reviewed the security arrangements ahead of and for the
Republic Day in the state and in view of BJP`s plans to hoist
the tricolour at Lal Chowk.

Official sources said the meeting discussed the
measures to be taken in view of BJP`s plans to hoist the
national flag at Lal Chowk.

The state government has already said it would not
allow BJP to hoist the flag, apprehending that it can lead to
law and order problems.

The police in Srinagar have set up checkpoints on all
the major routes in the city and are conducting random searchs
of passengers and pedestrains as part of an effort to check
any threat ahead of January 26.
While BJP Yuva Morcha under the leadership of its
president Anurag Thakur continued its march to Srinagar, the
party`s central leadership has deputed its general secretaries
and Jaitley to lead the campaign in Punjab and Jammu.

Two party General Secretaries, Dharmendra Pradhan and
Jai Prakash Nadda, will lead the campaign in Lakhanpur, on the
Punjab-Jammu border, on January 24. In Jammu, Jaitley and
General Secretary Ananth Kumar will lead the Yatra on January

Meanwhile, Congress today rallied behind Jammu and
Kashmir government in its decision to stop BJP`s `Ekta Yatra`
to Srinagar, accusing the opposition party of playing
"deliberate politics of the flag" seeking to add "fuel
to the fire" in the militancy-hit state.

"There is no dearth of those unfurling the national
tricolour in Kashmir but BJP is attempting to secessionist
forces which are on the backfoot to gain ground by playing
deliberate politics of the flag", Congress spokesman Mohan
Prakash said in Delhi.

He said BJP should instead unfurl the tricolour at the
RSS headquarters in Nagpur, reminding that party that its
"parent organisation" was forced to do it by Congress in 2003
by staging demonstrations.

Another Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi accused BJP
of adding "fuel to the fire" by such actions. "Flag is in our
hearts and what BJP is doing is an act of provocation....with
a mischievous and ulterior motive".


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