BJP leaders slam Omar govt

BJP leaders slam Omar govt

BJP leaders slam Omar govt

Seven BJP activists were arrested in Srinagar for attempting to hoist the tricolour at Lal Chowk which had been turned into a fortress while party cadres in Jammu attacked a car of National Conference minister after a press conference by Swaraj and Jaitley.

Slamming the J and K government, Swaraj said, "this is an extraordinary situation. India completes 61 years of being a Republic. This is the first Republic Day after Emergency when Leaders of Opposition of both Houses of Parliament were kept under arrest. We were taken into custody for wanting to hoist the tricolour in our own state of J and K. Is that a crime ? she asked.

Jaitley said both the Centre and the state government wanted to send a message to the separatists that the BJP leaders have been stopped to appease them.

The two leaders held a press conference along with Anant Kumar soon after being released in Kathua by the state government in the afternoon.

"My first question to the government is what kind of a Republic is this ? asked swaraj.
She rubbished the invitation extended over phone by the chief minister to Jaitley asking the BJP leaders to participate in the Republic Day celebrations in Srinagar. "Was he not aware that we were under arrest ?" she asked adding, "our invitation is that you (Omar) join us and unfurl the national flag at Lal Chowk," she said.

Describing as "unfortunate" the detention of senior leaders, BJP president Nitin Gadkari also rubbished charges that the party was playing politics over hoisting the national flag.
"Some people say there is politics in hoisting the national flag at Lal Chowk. I don't understand what politics can there be in hoisting the flag... This is not politics," Gadkari told reporters on the sidelines of the national flag hoisting function at the BJP headquarters in Delhi.
He alleged that the Centre and Omar government were bowing to pressure from the separatists.
Likening BJP's plan to hoist the flag to party ideologue Shyama Prasad Mukherjee's kashmir campaign, senior leader L K Advani said the agitation has brought to the forefront the issue of "fully integrating" J-K with the rest of the country.Police in Srinagar arrested seven BJP activists as they made a vain bid to hoist the national flag.
A lone BJP supporter appeared at Regal Chowk, less than 100 yards away from Clock Tower at Lal Chowk, carrying the tricolour at 8.30 AM, officials said.
Srikant, a resident of Gurgaon in Haryana, was apprehended by police personnel before he could make his way to the venue for hoisting the flag. He was taken to Kothibagh police station.
Six other BJP activists were arrested near a prominent hotel here for violating prohibitory orders at around 11.00 AM, the officials said.

"Those who have been arrested in Jammu and Kashmir have brought this issue before the whole country. I think our Yuva Morcha and our two leaders in Parliament (Swaraj and Jaitley) have gone there and what they have done with a lot of courage has brought this issue and that of unifying the whole of Kashmir to the forefront," said Advani.
Advani recalled the movement launched by Mukherjee "to unify the whole of Kashmir with the rest of India" and the NDA regime's amendment of the Flag Code allowing all Indians the right to hoist the tricolour on all days.

"It is a result of this that we have started this agitation so that we can say that we have unfurled the flag at Lal Chowk," he told reporters after unfurling the tricolour at his residence on Republic Day.

In the early 1950s, Mukherjee had launched an agitation against the permit system to visit Jammu and Kashmir and a separate flag and Constitution for the state. He was arrested after his entry into J-K and died while in jail.

"I want to say that Republic Day is a day which should make every Indian feel proud of being an Indian... feel proud of the idea of India, of it being a secular democracy," he said
"Whatever happened yesterday in J-K reminds us of Mukherjee's sacrifice and the Kashmir agitation he started to fully integrate it with India. We should keep working in this direction... it also reminds me that the NDA government amended the flag code to give every citizen the right to hoist the tricolour from January 26, 2002 onwards," he said.

At least 16 separatist leaders, including JKLF chairman Yasin Malik, were arrested in Srinagar as they tried to march towards Lal Chowk.

Malik and other leaders including Bilal Gandi Lone and moderate Hurriyat leader Shahidul Islam were arrested around noon, a JKLF spokesman said.

The BJP's controversial Ekta Yatra was stopped as it entered Jammu yesterday after crossing the one-kilometre bridge that joins Madhopur in Punjab with Lakhanpur in J-K.
Swaraj and Jaitley were on a rath (chariot) leading party supporters, many of them, waving the national flag before they were arrested. They were moved to a hotel after they were taken into custody.

The BJP trio had planned to enter Jammu and then make their way to Srinagar to unfurl the national flag at Lal Chowk.

Both the state government and the Centre had made it clear this would not be allowed on the grounds that it could precipitate the situation in the Kashmir Valley.The authorities had also taken into consideration the threat by separatists who had warned that they would take on the BJP with a march of their own to Lal Chowk.

Speaking to reporters in Kathua, 70 kms from Jammu, BJP's youth wing national president Anurag Thakur said Omar's invitation to party leaders to attend Republic Day function either in Jammu or in Srinagar was a mere lip service.

"It is a lip service by him (Omar). We do not give credence to it and turn it down," he said.Meanwhile, former party president Rajnath Singh ended his hunger strike over the issue in Delhi this morning after Gadkari requested him to do so.

Jaitley termed the stopping of flag hosting yatra as "pyschological and idealogical surrender" of the Centre and Omar government before "Kashmiri separatists".
"The state and central government wanted to give a message to separatists that they have stopped the yatra from entering J-K to please the separatists", he later told a public rally hosted by state BJP to welcome them after their release.

Lashing out at the Omar government for thwarting BJP's plan, he said "this is first instance since Independence (1947) that taking in hand a national flag or hoisting a tricolour has become a crime in J&K".

"It is total surrender of the state government. It is psychological and idealogical surrender to the separatists", he said

He said, "we now have the misfortune of being abducted by the state government at midnight. If anyone is taken forcibly, it is called abduction".

"You cannot extern opposition leader on the plea of security. After 6 hours without any written order we were bundled in cars and sent out of the state. It is a serious crime".
Referring to the yatra, he said that it passed off peacefully in 12 statesn. "It has started an ideological debate over the Kashmir policy".

Anant Kumar said Lal Chowk had been turned into Lahore Chowk by the state government by not allowing hoisting of the tricolour. He said the state government had allowed separatists to unfurl the Pakistan' flag at Lal Chowk last summer.

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