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Bending to Separatists: Betraying the Tiranga

Posted in india, kashmir by Sandeep on January 25, 2011

Bending to Separatists: Betraying the Tiranga
Nancy Kaul
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..


Lal Chowk: Tiranga betrayed

Posted in india, kashmir by Sandeep on January 27, 2010

Nancy Kaul
27 January 2010

The non-hoisting of the national tricolour at Srinagar’s Lal Chowk, the failure of the Security Forces to hold their own traditional celebrations there with the unfurling of the flag, singing of the anthem, followed by distribution of sweets, will surely be the enduring memory of Republic Day 2010.

Leading the national celebrations down Rajpath, the Supreme Commander of the Indian Armed Forces, President Pratibha Devi Singh Patil, took the salute presented by the Defence and Security forces of the country. It was a day to commemorate the Indian Republic with somber remembrance of the bravest of the brave soldiers at the Amar Jawan Jyoti, followed by an exultant flag hoisting and salute – in respect of the Nation, its Forces, its unity and integrity, its sovereignty.

The Flag : the tricolour, the ‘Tiranga’, symbol of the nation, representative of the pride of the country and the valour of our Security Forces who are ready to shed their blood for the dignity, defence, and sovereignty of this very Nation under this very Flag.

Even as India and we Indians take pride in singing, “Vijaye Vishwa tiranga Payara, Jhanda Ooncha rahe hamara,” it was with shock, sorrow, and anger that we learnt that the hoisting of the National Flag at Lal Chowk in Srinagar was not done or rather, was not allowed, this year. For the last twenty years, after the eruption of the most deadly terrorism in the State, every year, Security Forces in the vicinity of Lal Chowk have unfurled the tricolour with the respect it deserves.

Yet this year, inexplicably, and without a word of explanation, there was no Republic Day celebration in Srinagar’s Lal Chowk by the security forces; nor was the tricolour hoisted atop the clock tower there, which has been customary over the last 20 years of militancy. Instead, this bustling business hub was in a state of uneasy calm as people all over the Kashmir Valley remained indoors due to a shutdown call by separatists and the heavy presence of security forces.

Till the time of writing, there was no official word on why the celebration was not held Tuesday. Who withheld it?

As Lal Chowk, which recently witnessed a long terror siege of nearly 23 hours, wore a deserted look, the gun-toting men in uniform were alert and in battle-ready mode. Would it not have boosted their morale to hoist the most visible symbol of the Republic on Republic Day?

Security forces used to have their own Republic Day celebration in Lal Chowk, and would distribute sweets and sing the national anthem, which would be followed by the hoisting of the Tiranga over the clock tower situated right in the centre of the market, a wire service from Srinagar noted. But this year was unfathomably different.

To suggest that the 23-hour-long fidayeen attack at Lal Chowk was a reason not to hold the function is frivolous, smacks of a hidden agenda, and puts a question mark on the preparedness of the security forces. In reality, Lal Chowk has seen far more testing times in the last twenty years; many more fidayeens have gone on for more than 24 hours. The security forces have neutralized many deadly fidayeen attacks and grenades in the vicinity of the Lal Chowk clock tower, where the national flag would flutter with the same honour, even as terrorists would be killed.

The recent repeated declarations of Defence Minister AK Antony and Jammu & Kashmir State DG Police Kuldeep Khuda led the country to believe that violence in the Kashmir Valley had declined and that the situation was moving towards normalcy. So why were security forces withdrawn from Kashmir if the threat loomed to such an extent that Security Forces could not even unfurl the Indian Flag on Indian soil in Jammu & Kashmir?

The deadpan silence and offering of lame excuses raises a question mark over the Government of Jammu & Kashmir. The whole exercise seems to be a pre-calibrated move to appease certain elements, and reeks of deeper dangers on the ground.

At whose behest was this done, and why? The question is of prime importance and is interrelated to the country, the security apparatus, the citizens, and the country’s sovereignty.

It is also pertinent that though the BSF and the CRPF have been unfurling the flag on Republic Day and Independence Day, one never sees officials of Jammu & Kashmir Police, not even the closest police station SHO, attend it? True, the official Government function takes place in Bakshi Stadium, but that does not mean that hoisting the flag at the Lal Chowk Clock Tower is unconstitutional or not within the parameters of Indian democracy.

This abject negation of a ceremony so pregnant with the symbolism of the Republic cannot be without an ulterior motive. Behind the façade of untruth are murmurs that point a finger at the corridors of power. Indeed, the courage of men involved in counter terror operations is unquestionable, but the conduct and aspirations of certain politicians and top level officials is debatable.

During the unrest created by the PDP and Hurriyat and other politicians in the Kashmir Valley over the making of makeshift Yatri tents in Baltal to provide better facilities to Amarnath pilgrims, the National Flag was torn down and spitted upon.

“De ragda, de ragda, Hindustan (after vehemently beating their shoes on the flag and ground), jive jive Pakistan,” was followed by a mad frenzy of slogans and hoisting of the Pakistani flag. The CRPF was asked to be a mute spectator to disrespect of such magnitude, and State DG allowed it to flutter at Lal Chowk for hours, atop the very same clock tower!

Interestingly, it was the son-of-the-soil inclination of the PDP-NC combine that allowed the coronation of Kuldeep Khuda as State Police Chief, though better, more competent officers were available. He also enjoys an enviable proximity to certain Central leaders (the Home Minister attended the marriage of his daughter in Jammu).

Today there are whispers that he suggested that the act of unfurling the flag was resented by the local population and the CRPF should not unfurl it, though they had been maintaining this tradition for two decades.

The present Chief Minister, then a Member of Parliament, in his by now famous speech had asserted that he was a Muslim and he was an Indian. He had said that not even an inch of land would be given.

Is this a pointer to an emerging pattern, where the Union Home Minister favours secret parleys with secessionist and separatist forces? Was this disregard done to please these very elements? What is the Government up to? Is it another symbolic tactic to distance Kashmir from India?

Or is Ghanta Ghar (clock tower) Lal Chowk not India at all; has it been handed over to Pakistan and Islamic terrorists?

All along, the separatists and other terror-supporting forces have been against the Indian flag flying from this clock tower, and at the peak of terrorism the Pakistani flag would often be hoisted over it. The then BJP president Murli Manohar Joshi hoisted the flag at very clock tower on 26 Jan 1992, amidst rocket attacks at the venue, for this very same reason.

But today even the BJP is mum at this national sacrilege. Is this silence in acceptance of the separatists’ demands or self-rule and the erosion of Indian sovereignty in Jammu & Kashmir? Recently, BJP think tank Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation invited a supporter of PDP’s demand for self-rule at a function to observe Exodus Day on Jan. 19!

The signals emanating are clear and an alarm bell for the country to recognize another conspiracy.

The author is convener, Daughters of Vitasta

Source: http://www.vijayvaani.com/FrmPublicDisplayArticle.aspx?id=1063