Carrying the tricolor

Not only Syed Ali Geelani, the JKLF leadership too has a reason to rejoice. In Kashmir, if people have been arrested for hoisting the Pakistani flag, they have also been arrested for carrying the Indian National Flag

Syed Ali Geelani has a strong reason to be happy. His stand has been vindicated by the very agency that crushed dissent brutally for the past sixty four years. Although his demand of accepting Jammu Kashmir as a disputed territory was rejected, the government through its conduct during the past one week conveyed in clear terms that the Indian National Flag (tricolor) could not be hoisted in Kashmir.  

For sixty four years, the Jammu Kashmir Police had been seizing Pakistani flags in Kashmir. People carrying the flags would be ruthlessly beaten before detaining them earlier under Defence of India Rules (DIR) and later under Public Safety Act (PSA). But things have changed in Kashmir and so has the thinking of the police. The police are now after persons carrying the Indian National Flag.

 The city of Srinagar witnessed massive security arrangements a day before the Republic Day. Besides looking for seven Lashker-e-Toiba (LeT) militants, who the intelligence sleuths believed, had sneaked into the city to “create trouble on Republic day”, and the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) activists who had dared the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its Yuva Morcha to hoist the tricolor on the Clock Tower at Lal Chowk; the police were also looking for a third actor. The search was repeatedly undertaken in Lal Chowk and elsewhere in the city for BJP activists and the Indian National Flag!

The people who made it to Lal Chowk on January 25 for various reasons were thoroughly frisked. The checking of vehicles this time was also thorough. The IGP, Kashmir range visited the Lal Chowk area three times to assess the situation. However, much to his dismay, not a single BJP activist could be arrested and not a single tricolor was recovered.

The desperation of the police and the state government to ensure that the Indian National Flag was not hoisted at the Clock Tower speaks volumes about the situation in Kashmir which politicians, defence analysts and intelligence sleuths believe has improved.

Jammu Kashmir was ruled by a retired Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) chief in 1992 when the former BJP president, Murli Manohar Joshi led a similar Yatra to Srinagar. Militancy was at its peak then and the ruler being an intelligence sleuth was better placed to understand the consequences of allowing a Yatra than the present day rulers. He did not stop the yatra. Instead he felicitated it. This means the government was less scared of militant Kashmir! Is it safe to presume that the situation in contemporary Kashmir is much dangerous than it was in 1992?

All pro-Indian political parties urged the BJP to abandon the Yatra. The chairperson of the Awami National Conference (ANC), Khalida Shah said Kashmiri have been hoisting the Pakistani Flag in Kashmir since 1947 but it has not made Kashmir a part of Pakistan. But Khalida missed a point. Agreed the adventures of the people of Kashmir with the green and white flag had not helped them achieved their cherished goal but why did the government prevent the BJP activists from hoisting the tricolor at Lal Chowk?

The government is aware of a harsh reality notwithstanding the recent statement of the New Delhi’s nominated Chief interlocutor, Dileep Padgoanker. The hoisting of the tricolor, the government made clear repeatedly that hoisting of the tricolor at Lal Chowk would set Kashmir on fire. Why? The government knows the answer. Padgoanker says barring Syed Ali Geelani nobody in Kashmir wants Self Determination. Well Padgaonker talked to some persons who are on the wrong side of the fence. They do not matter in the contemporary Kashmir. Yes, some of them have been voted to power by the people but the voters had made it clear at the booths that they were voting for drains, public lavatories, roads, electricity and water. 

 
The BJP has always helped Kashmir cause. In 1992 when they came to Srinagar for hoisting the tricolor, it united the warring militant groups and Kashmir attracted massive international attention. It was perceived as an act of aggression against Kashmir.

In 2008 they did it in twenty days what the pro-resistance leadership could not do in twenty years. For two decades, the leadership had been urging the people to come out on streets without results. But when the BJP ignited the spark, they came out in millions, on their own without any appeal from the leadership. The movement that had almost died down was revived.

And now, the BJP has not only ensured massive coverage to Kashmir at the local, regional and international level but has forced the government to accept a harsh reality. The BJP has also brought to the fore a very important trait of Kashmiris. The defiant people of Kashmir hate the status quo. To put it plainly they want freedom from India. Notwithstanding this, they are tolerant enough to allow an organisation like BJP to operate from an area where most of the offices of the pro-resistance organisations are located. On the contrary the leaders from Kashmir are heckled in New Delhi, Kolkata and even Jammu.
The drama is now over. Contrary to popular belief, the state government is a loser and so is the BJP. The people of Kashmir emerged winners. Without actually doing anything they have made a strong political statement. Their stand stands vindicated.

Not only Syed Ali Geelani, the JKLF leadership too has a reason to rejoice. In Kashmir, if people have been arrested for hoisting the Pakistani flag, they have also been arrested for carrying the Indian National Flag.
 
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