Petition on J&K flag triggers row

Plea urges celebration of state's own Republic Day, NC against idea

A petition filed before Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) High Court by a retired bureaucrat seeking directions to constitutional authorities on hoisting the state flag and celebrating J&K Republic Day has led to controversy.

While the ruling National Conference-Congress coalition rejected the idea of celebrating J&K Republic Day on November 17, the main opposition People’s Democratic Party said it will watch the proceedings with keen interest.

“The petition is interesting and it has added a new dimension to the discussions on Kashmir,” said PDP spokesperson Naeem Akhter.

“The debate is rooted in the urge for the identity within the union and it represents the public sentiment,” he said.

National Conference MP Mehboob Beg said separate celebration of J&K Republic Day will lead to confrontation with India.

“If the state flag is separately hoisted and if the state celebrates its own republic day, it will lead to secession. The fact of the matter is that confrontation must be avoided,” he said.

However, he said J&K is unique because “we have a constitution within the constitution and we have to preserve the unique identity of the state.”

State Congress senior vice president Ghulam Nabi Monga said the petition has been filed with a motive to create confusion among people.

“We have acceded with the union of India and we are a part and parcel of that union. How can we celebrate a separate republic day? It is just to create confusion among people,” he said.

On December 10, Abdul Qayoom Khan, former chief conservator of forests of Kashmir, filed a petition before the high court seeking directions to constitutional authorities to use the state flag in all their official cars and offices, besides seeking directions to constitutional authorities to celebrate Republic Day of J&K when it adopted the constitution of the state.

On November 17, 1956, the constituent assembly of J&K adopted a resolution moved by former Prime Minister of the state Mir Qasim that it shall stand dissolved from January 26, 1957.

The constituent assembly’s president formally declared its dissolution pursuant to the resolution of November 17.

“Contrary to the Constitution under which Constitutional authorities have been created and function, these authorities only use Indian National Flag and no other flag. This has the effect of showing contempt to the Constitution of the State,” reads the petition, a copy of which is with Deccan Herald.

The petitioner said such a situation has to be prevented. “So long as a constitutional authority is created by the constitution of the state is under an obligation to use the state flag, the constitutional authority has no choice, but to use the state flag in order to demonstrate sanctity of the flag and republic character of the nation (state of J&K).”

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