Standoff on Lal Chowk flag hoisting intensifies
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Last Updated: Friday, January 21, 2011, 22:46
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 25.

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".


First Published: Friday, January 21, 2011, 22:46

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