Bending to Separatists: Betraying the Tiranga
25 January 2011
India ’s flag is the pride of the country, symbol of our national sovereignty, our constitution, our freedom. The Tiranga stands for our national self-respect, our valour, dignity, unity, and territorial integrity. The fluttering tricolour is the first and foremost identity of the Indian nation. It is for the Tiranga that our armed and security forces are ever ready to shed their blood to secure India from within and at the borders with their sacrifices and martyrdom.
Every 26 January, the country led by the President salutes the Tiranga, presented by the defence and security forces of the country. Salutation to the Indian nation and the right of unfurling the national flag on Republic Day (26 Jan.) and on Independence Day (15 Aug.) is a right every Indian citizen enjoys under the constitution.
Non-hoisting of the national flag at Lal Chowk in Srinagar is nothing less than a betrayal of the nation. In 2008, separatists tore down the Indian tricolour during the unrest created by the Hurriyat Conference (a conglomerate of 23 anti-national and separatist organizations), along with the PDP and other politicians from the Valley.
“De ragda, de ragda, Hindustan (they chanted, vehemently stamping their feet on national flags spread out beneath their feet), jive jive Pakistan .” There followed a mad frenzy of slogans and the hoisting of the Pakistani flag.
CRPF was forced to be a mute spectator to disrespect of such magnitude and State DGP Kuldeep Khuda allowed the Pakistani flag to flutter unmolested at Lal Chowk for several hours, atop the very clock tower where the Tiranga fluttered for many years, even as terrorists continued to attack Lal Chowk with grenades and fidayeen attacks.
On both occasions of Republic Day and Independence Day in 2010, the betrayal continued unchecked by the State authorities and the national flag was not allowed to be hoisted even by Security Forces over the Lal Chowk clock tower.
Now, in 2011, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has announced that no one will be allowed to go to Lal Chowk to hoist the flag as it would antagonize the people. “What is the need for an individual to hoist the flag,” he asked. This prompted terrorist Yasin Malik (chairman, JKLF) to challenge the decision of the BJP Yuwa Morcha to hoist the flag at Lal Chowk on Jan. 26. “I challenge them to come and hoist the flag,” Malik said while addressing a seminar in Srinagar .
These synchronized statements of the Chief Minister and the separatists point to a deep and evil design to push the tide of Indian nationalism back from the state, particularly at a time when the separatists and militants are facing diminishing popular returns. Once the Chief Minister declared he would not allow anyone to enter the state boundaries, Yasin Malik and his slogan-shouting goons were allowed to move freely in a procession to Lal Chowk.
It may be recalled that on 11 Sept. 2010, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq had asked people to march to Lal Chowk from Idgah after Id prayers, which culminated in rioting, violence, burning of Government and security buildings, and the waving of Pakistani flags as his Azadi cacophony continued in Srinagar, leading to a situation best described as instigating and waging war against the State. Yet the Government and State Police Chief looked the other way.
These separatists and anti-nationals are allowed to raise Pakistani flags, yet the Chief Minister and his administration are happy to toe the line of secessionists by not allowing the Indian flag to be unfurled on Republic Day! In fact, Mr Omar Abdullah is even suggesting that there is no nationalist in Kashmir and that not one citizen there wants the Indian flag to be unfurled in Srinagar city! This is grave injustice to those who believe in India and gave their lives for its unity, such as Maqbool Sherwani and Brig Rajender Singh.
These statements must be seen in the light the oft-repeated cacophony emanating out of Pakistan : On 26 Sept. 2010, Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit claimed the state is not an integral part of India and the issue cannot be resolved within the ambit of the Indian Constitution.
Is preventing the unfurling of the Indian flag in tune with a signal from Pakistan ? Certainly not allowing fellow countrymen to enter the State reeks of the agenda of Sheikh Abdullah and has chilling shades of 1953 when Dr Syama Prasad Mookerji was arrested for entering the State of Jammu and Kashmir disrespecting the ‘permit system’ for entry, and then ‘allowed’ to die in jail in circumstances that remain unexplained to this day.
By deploying such heavy force and repeating the same folly, sealing Srinagar as if it were a fortress under siege by hostile forces, the State and Central Governments are furthering the cause of the secessionists. At the time of writing, BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and Anantha Kumar, who flew to Jammu airport to support the beleaguered cadres of the Yuwa Morcha, were confined within the airport building and asked to return to Delhi . They would do well to stay put till 26 Jan. and unfurl the flag in the airport terminal itself, unless better sense prevails.
It would be in the fitness of things for all other senior BJP leaders, including Chief Ministers, to rush to the State and challenge Mr Omar Abdullah and his administration to arrest them. A full blown crisis could make at least Mr Farooq Abdullah see sense and pave the way for an ultimate resolution of the confrontation. This would also be an appropriate moment for the President of India and the Supreme Court of India to find a way to remove Article 370 from the statute book and fully integrate the state into the Indian nation, which will prove to be the biggest boon to its own poor citizenry.
The right to hoist a flag at Lal Chowk is every Indians’ right. As Congressman lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi said in the Supreme Court in the flag case: Indeed, the very denial of the right to fly the Flag to the Indian citizen – as was the existing status quo for decades after independence – is itself the manifestation of a psychological mindset, a subservience to imperial and colonial notions of governance and a slavish approach to nationhood. Such a denial perpetuates the hiatus between the governors and the governed which is fundamentally antithetical to the very concept of a Republic signified by the emotive and euphoric opening words of our Constitution, ‘We the people of India …’
When Prime Minister Manmohan Singh bats for Omar Abdullah on the issue of denial of the right to unfurl the flag at Lal Chowk, he should view himself as another pawn in the agenda of the secessionists and separatists to hit at the umbilical cord that binds Jammu & Kashmir to India . To appease them is to compromise with the nationhood and sovereignty of India .
Prime Minister, this is your litmus test. Pakistan ’s ex-foreign minister has said that you had virtually concluded an agreement on Jammu and Kashmir , a sovereign part of our country. Is this true? What was the agreement? And is the obstinate insistence on not flying the flag on 26 Jan. at Lal Chowk a part of this understanding?
Have you – like Dharmaraja Yudhisthira after he gambled away his freedom and that of his brothers in a game of dice – promised to give away that which does not belong to you? Such a pact would be bad in law and morality.
The author is convener, Daughters of Vitasta..