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Rediff.com  » News » We will go ahead and hoist flag at Lal Chowk: Swaraj, Jaitley

We will go ahead and hoist flag at Lal Chowk: Swaraj, Jaitley

Last updated on: January 25, 2011 17:41 IST

We will go ahead and hoist flag at Lal Chowk: Swaraj, Jaitley

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Slamming the Jammu and Kashmir government for stopping them from entering the state, Bharatiya Janata Party leaders Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday rejected Centre's appeal to turn back and vowed to go ahead with the proposed flag hoisting at Srinagar's Lal Chowk on Republic Day.

"We will head towards Jammu and then towards Kashmir Valley for hoisting national flag at Lal Chowk along with hundreds of our activists. Where ever they stop us, we will sit there on a dharna till January 26," Swaraj told mediapersons.
Swaraj along with Jaitley and former Union Minister Ananth Kumar were sent back from Jammu and dropped on the bridge over Ravi River at Punjab's border at Madhopur late on Monday night.

Jaitley said Home Minister P Chidambaram had phoned him at Jammu airport on Monday asking him to fly back to Delhi saying they had made their point. "We are not a banana republic. They cannot physically throw us like that. I informed the Home Minister regarding this to which he said that he would look into it," Jaitley said. He described as a criminal act the Centre's decision to divert trains bound for Jammu.

"What the government did by diverting trains and expelling the leaders amounts to hijack," he said. Jaitley claimed that the situation in J&K was worse than it was in 1953 when people required a permit to enter the state. Swaraj said that they were determined to hoist the national flag at Lal Chowk in Srinagar.

"We told the authorities in Jammu to either arrest or allow us to proceed further for the party rally there but they put us separately in three vehicles and dropped us at the bridge in Madhopur even though we were told that we were being shifted to a jail in Jammu. They are employing such gimmicks; the way we are physically taken away is something unprecedented and unheard of," she said.

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Image: BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley

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Chidambaram pleads before BJP for peace in Kashmir

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Home Minister P Chidambaram on Tuesday appealed to party leaders Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj to give up the 'path of confrontation' and not push any 'political agenda' that will affect peace in Jammu and Kashmir.

The home minister noted that the Jammu and Kashmir government had made it clear that it would neither let any yatra to Srinagar nor would it allow any assembly at Lal Chowk.

"The BJP leaders should respect the orders passed by the state government. It would be most unfortunate if the BJP leaders defy the restrictions placed by the state government or deliberately cause a breach of peace. There is no justification whatsoever to push a political agenda that will certainly affect peace and law and order in Jammu and Kashmir," he said in a statement.

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Image: Home Minister P Chidambaram

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'Jan 26 a day of celebration, not divisive politics'

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Chidambaram said the state government has also made it clear that it would not allow the BJP leaders to cross the bridge connecting Madhopur and Lakhanpur and enter Jammu and Kashmir.

Drawing the attention of the BJP leaders to the statement made by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh January 22, Chidambaram said the Republic Day is a day of celebration and is not an occasion for divisive politics.

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Image: A BJP supporter shouts as he is detained by police during a protest near Jammu airport
Photographs: Reuters
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'BJP should not defy government's orders'

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"I would request the two Leaders of the Opposition (in Parliament) and their colleagues to give up the path of confrontation, return to Delhi and join the celebrations in Delhi on Republic Day," he said.

The home minister said he had spoken to Jaitley and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Monday.

During the conversation with Jaitley, Chidambaram had told him that he and his colleagues had made their point and that they should not defy the orders of the state government, which was the best judge to decide whether there was a threat to law and order and public peace.

"I requested them to return to Delhi. The BJP leaders were also offered an opportunity to address a press conference at Jammu airport and, thereafter, leave Jammu and Kashmir. Regrettably, they turned down the offer," he said.

In the circumstances, the state government had to remove the BJP leaders and take them to Madhopur in Punjab. They were lodged for the night in a rest house in Madhopur, he said.

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Image: Security beefed up in Jammu ahead of the rally
Photographs: Umar Ganie/Rediff.com
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7,000 security personnel deployed to stop BJP rally

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The J&K government has sealed the border with Punjab and put barbed wire on the bridge over Ravi river connecting the two states.

A senior officer in-charge of Lakhanpur sector said over 7,000 security personnel have been deployed at the J&K-Punjab border terminal to prevent the BJP rally from entering the state. Two women platoons have also been deployed in view of the presence of women activists, he said.

"Riot control vehicles, water cannons and deployment of Central Reserve Police Force and police personnel have been posted at all the entry points," the official said.

The J&K government has ordered closure of all educational institutions in Jammu and Kathua districts and imposed Section 144 of CrPC, prohibiting assembly of five or more persons, as a precautionary measure. "We will not allow peace in Jammu and Kashmir to be disturbed," a senior police official said.

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Photographs: Umar Ganie/Rediff.com
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