BJP should reconsider flag hoisting plan: J&K Interlocutors

"If the exercise of the right (to hoist the flag) leads to aggravating tension or to thwarting the dialogue process now underway, it should be seriously reconsidered. This is what we have conveyed to the BJP," veteran journalist Dileep Padgaonkar, who heads the team of three interlocutors, told a press conference here.

He was replying to a volley of questions on the BJP's plan and separatist leader and JKLF chief Yasin Malik's call to the people to assemble at Lal Chowk that day and restrict BJP's "negative politics".

"Every citizen has the right to hoist the national flag anywhere in the country. We do not dispute anybody's right. But we only hope that BJP functions in a way that facilitates return to normalcy (in Kashmir)," he said.

The plan of the BJP's youth wing to hoist the national tricolour at Lal Chowk has drawn flak from opposition parties and even its NDA ally JD(U) has appealed to it to postpone the programme so that peace is not "hampered".

The state government has urged the main opposition party twice to drop the plan. To a question, Padgoankar said, "We truly and genuinely hope that no one does any thing in order to disturb peace and thwart the dialogue process, which is now underway.

"The important thing is to facilitate dialogue, bring normalcy and facilitate certain measures that are being taken on the ground in Kashmir to try and create an atmosphere conducive to make progress on the dialogue front," he said.

Padgaonkar said that during the meeting the interlocutors had with BJP leaders on January 17, the party stuck to its decision.

"We heard their point of view and asked them to reconsider the decisions," he said.
Noting that the people of the state were politically mature to know exactly who is doing what, he said they were yearning for return of normalcy and were keen for a permanent political resolution in Jammu and Kashmir.

"They know whether a political group facilitates a dialogue process or not," he said. Referring to the recommendations made by the group, he said, "After every visit we make recommendations to the Central government. The Government has so far accepted all the recommendations we made after our three visits."

Some of the suggestions have to be implemented by the Centre and some by the state government. "We have every reason to believe that the chief minister is keen on doing so at the earliest," Padgaonkar said.

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