BJP, separatist leaders held for trying to hoist flag in Kashmir
Ajay Zadoo / Amin Masoodi
Agence India Press
Srinagar/ Jammu: Members of the BJP attacked the car of a senior minister in Jammu. The minister’s car was passing by the BJP office in the city when activists tried to damage it. The minister drove away unhurt.
The activists had just left the BJP office after being addressed by senior party leaders Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj.
At the party office today, swaraj and Jaitely said that their arrest was unprecedented. Police sources say their comments provoked their party workers who spilled onto the street outside as the minister’s car approached.
Earlier in this morning, state Chief Minister Omar Abdullah called up Jaitley and thanked him for ensuring that the Ekta Yatra had ended peacefully. Abdullah says he invited the BJP leaders to join official Republic Day celebrations in either Jammu or Srinagar, but his offer was refused.
The BJP says Omar’s offer could not be taken seriously since its leaders were in custody at a local hotel at the time.
The party has also accused the State government of a “psychological surrender” to separatists by not allowing the BJP to hoist the national flag on clock tower at Lal Chowk.
Describing as “unfortunate” the detention of senior leaders Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj and Ananth Kumar in Jammu, BJP president Nitin Gadkari rubbished charges that the party was playing politics over hoisting the national flag.
“We are under custody for the honour of national flag. That is the way we celebrated the Republic Day. Many of activists were arrested or detained,” Arun Jaitley said.
“We are under arrest even after the parade was over. That proves how serious Omar Abdullah was on the invite. Hundreds of our supporters were still being arrested,” he said.
He said many activists tried to hoist the flag at Lal Chowk today but were arrested.
Jaitley said it is “grand standing” that they were first arrested and than Omar hoisted the national flag.
Gadkari told reporters on the sidelines of the national flag hoisting function at the party headquarters in Delhi, “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 alleged that the Centre and Omar Abdullah government were bowing to pressure from the separatists.
Meanwhile in Srinagar, numbers of BJP activists and leaders of separatist groups were arrested today for violating prohibitory orders as Jammu and Kashmir government foiled their plans to hoist flag at Lal Chowk, which was turned into a fortress.
At least 16 separatist leaders, including JKLF chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik, were arrested as they tried to march towards Lal Chowk here to hoist the party flag on Clock Tower.
A spokesman of the JKLF told Agence India Press that “Malik and other leaders including Bilal Gani Lone and Shahidul Islam of Moderate Hurriyat Conference were arrested as they were marching towards Lal Chowk,”
He said the separatist leaders started the march from Maisuma locality towards Lal Chowk around noon.
Police intercepted the leaders and took them into custody.
Malik, Lone and several other separatists had gone into hiding over the weekend as they apprehended arrest by police to foil their ‘Lal Chowk chalo’ march.
The JKLF chairman had called for the march to Clock Tower to counter the BJP’s plan to hoist the national flag.
The state government made unprecedented security arrangements to foil their plans.
Earlier in the day, a BJP supporter appeared at Regal Chowk, less than 100 yards from Clock Tower at Lal Chowk, carrying a national flag, officials said.
Srikant, a resident of Gurgaon in Haryana, was apprehended before he could make his way to the venue for hoisting the flag and was taken to Kothibagh police station.
Six other BJP activists were arrested near a hotel here for violating prohibitory orders, the officials said. (AIP)
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