Top BJP leaders still lodged in hotel near Jammu

BJP leaders Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj and Ananth Kumar, who were arrested a day ago to prevent them from hoisting the national flag in Srinagar on Republic Day on Wednesday, are still lodged in a hotel near Kathua town.

Jammu: BJP leaders Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj and Ananth Kumar, who were arrested a day ago to prevent them from hoisting the national flag in Srinagar on Republic Day on Wednesday, are still lodged in a hotel near Kathua town in Jammu and Kashmir.

The trio, which attempted to lead hundreds of party workers into Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday, the plan being to hoist the tricolour at Lal Chowk in Srinagar, was arrested as soon as they entered the state.

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah late Tuesday night ordered the release of BJP workers arrested across the state in connection with their "Ekta Yatra" that was finally stopped at Lakhanpur - the gateway to the state.

He tweeted it as a "goodwill gesture" and also phoned Jaitley, urging him to take part in the Republic Day celebrations either in Jammu or in Srinagar.

But none of the leaders or workers were released till Wednesday morning.

Jaitley, Swaraj and Ananth Kumar spent the night in Hallmark hotel on the Jammu-Pathankote highway, less than four km from the district headquarter town of Kathua, 85 km south of Jammu.

The arrested BJP workers have been lodged in police lines, Kathua.

Police will have to first withdraw the cases against the leaders and workers to facilitate their release, police sources said.

"So far, we have not received any communication to set BJP workers free," a district level police official said on phone.

The Chief Minister had Monday ordered the arrest and deportation of the top BJP leaders from Jammu airport to Madhopur in Punjab.

After a bitter stand-off between the two sides, Abdullah reportedly called Jaitley and asked him to "forget the bitterness and join in the Republic Day celebrations".

Abdullah, who has been blowing hot and cold vis a vis BJP`s flag hoisting march, calling it a provocation to separatists and saying he was "doing his duty to maintain the peace", extended an invite to the BJP leaders to join the Republic Day functions.

IANS

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