Lakhanpur (Punjab-J&K border): Hundreds of BJP activists were arrested on Tuesday under Section 144 of IPC at Lakhanpur border for defying prohibitory orders, while marching towards Jammu and Kashmir from Punjab, ignoring the state government`s crackdown and strict security measures to stop their Rashtriya Ekta Yatra. Many of the activists courted arrest and were taken away in buses to an undisclosed destination.
In keeping with the “law and order situation”, the DIG of J&K Police announced the arrest of the BJP activists including party’s top leadership Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, Ananth Kumar and Anurag Thakur.
"What can be more unfortunate than the fact that those who burn the national flag are being provided security, while those holding the national flag are being stopped," said Swaraj as she was being arrested along with Jaitley, Kumar and Thakur, on entry into Jammu and Kashmir from Punjab.
"What is our crime? Why are we being arrested? We are only marching peacefully," Swaraj said while addressing thousands of party supporters carrying the Tricolour.
Senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley said, “It is for the first time in independent India’s history that citizens waving the national flag are being booked for violating law. This implies that both the J&K government and Union Government have psychologically surrendered to the separatists. We are determined to fight the psyche of both Central and State government.”
Anurag Thakur, the BJP Yuva Morcha (BJYM) president, who is spearheading Kolkata to Kashmir Rashtriya Ekta Yatra said, “This is more than an Emergency. Thousands of youth want to execute their fundamental right to hoist the national flag. But it is unfortunate that the Jammu and Kashmir government imposed a Permit Raj to curb fundamental rights given to Indian citizens. Remember, Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee sacrificed his life to end that Permit Raj.”
Earlier, Swaraj and Jaitley addressed a public meeting at Madhopur on Punjab border and vowed to go ahead with the plans to unfurl the National Tricolour at Lal Chowk in Srinagar.
The situation is tense as activists, who had assembled at the Punjab side of the Lakhanpur Bridge started to march towards the other side of the bridge, which lies in Jammu and Kashmir. The BJP workers carrying the national flag in their hands and shouting slogans breached the barriers put up by the J&K Police.
The government had yesterday night sent back Swaraj along with Arun Jaitley and Ananth Kumar to Punjab after taking them into custody at Jammu airport.
J&K has put up banners asking the activists not to venture to their side as the gathering has been declared "illegal" and that any defiance would be met with force.
A helicopter carrying state Director General of Police Kuldeep Khoda and other senior police officers was also seen hovering over the bridge.
BJP Yuva Morcha is leading the march aimed at hoisting the national flag at Lal Chowk in Srinagar on Republic Day tomorrow.