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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Patriotism or Petty Politics: BJP's plan to hoist national flag at Lal Chowk in Kashmir

The BJP has certainly managed to create a stir in large parts of the country with its plans to take another 'yatra' and reach Srinagar's Lal Chowk to hoist tricolour on Republic Day.

Call it our naivete or success of BJP's propaganda machinery,  the reality is that in North India, the party has to an extent managed to give an impression as if tricolour is not unfurled in Kashmir at all.

While the truth is that the flag is unfurled at all government buildings in Jammu and Kashmir apart from flag hoisting functions here on lines of all state capitals on August 15 and January 26.

But the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that has a much larger (and louder) active cadre than any other party and has the support of scored of RSS-affiliated groups apart from the right-wing leanings in vernacular media in parts of North India, somehow creates a false impression about Kashmir.

As one can see the photograph on the left, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah is hoisting the national flag in Srinagar.

However, newspapers also don't often clear the myth and simply air the fiery statements, that suggest to the man on street as if it is prohibited or banned to hoist Indian flag in the state. And when along side such news, reports of Jammu and Kashmir government's stern warning to BJP not to press with its plan are published, it creates an altogether different picture.

Other parties and their spokespersons don't seem to realise and the layman also feels that Kashmir is the most pampered state where 'anti-Indians, Pakistanis and separatists' rule the roost. The BJP has a state unit in Jammu and Kashmir and it can very well unfurl the flag rather than the 'Rashtriya Ekta Yatra'.

They can join the official functions or unfurl the 'Tiranga' at hundreds of places in Srinagar and send the message to separatists. But by taking out marches from across the country to reach Srinagar, does the party want to question the nationalism of Kashmiris or sort of threaten them.

Or if the party really wants to unfurl flag, it can go to territory claimed by Pakistan in Northern Kashmir or China's claimed parts in Arunachal Pradesh. Will they dare do it in Red country, Abujhmad, in the heart of BJP-ruled Chhattisgarh where Naxalites hoist their own flag?

The reason is BJP's obsession with communal issues. Despite having ruled the nation, a large section of the party workers have tendencies to create controversies. It never utters a word about a North Eastern state like Nagaland where an Indian citizen needs permit to go, it speaks no word but it spends all its energy over J&K where every Indian is free to go.

True there are separatists and there is a strong sentiment for Azadi but it doesn't mean that things should be given such a twist that create a false impression about the state among the mind of millions of Indians. The BJP has a sort of specialization over taking out such 'marches'.

It can't seem to forget that LK Advani's 'rath yatra' had created a frenzy in India. Though Murali Manohar Joshi's similar venture was a failure, BJP has announced several such marches in the past. Until a few years back, the same party used to make lot of noise demanding that the flag be hoisted at Idgah Maidan in Karnataka's Hubli.

Though it was a childish demand but it had potential to create communal divide. Places of worship in India don't have national flag atop them. But local Muslims punctured the movement when they themselves hoisted flag at Hubli's Idgah Maidan.

Interestingly, national flag was never unfurled at RSS offices or the Sangh Parivar's programmes. Till recently even on Independence Day and Republic Day the flag was not hoisted at its headquarters in Nagpur. But perhaps the self-styled patriots can't be questioned about their own nationalism.

In fact, barely a year ago a BJP woman leader had unfurled saffron flag on Independence Day which had caused controversy. Once again the party is aiming to get political leverage though the truth is that it doesn't help BJP at all.

Personally one feels that the State government could have handled it better by letting BJP leaders undertake march in the real sense and made them go on foot [walking just a few hundred kilometers--320 kms] after entering the state up till Srinagar's Lal Chawk rather than going for confrontation. In that case it could have served the objectives of both.

But the reality is that BJP remembers Kashmir only for Afzal Guru, Article 370 or similar contentious issues. It has no positive agenda, a healing touch or even a statement of empathy when youths die of bullets. Why should a national party repeatedly act in a manner that gives a spur to such elements who can use it to further label Indian Kashmir as a conflict zone?

General elections are far away. The issue will not help it in West Bengal assembly elections either. Even otherwise political gimmicks no longer fetch votes. But it seems that old habits die hard. Though its leaders are comparatively more measured [and less provocative] in their public utterances it seems that the BJP has to go a long way towards realising that it needs to behave much more sensibly and in accordance with its strength in parliament and vast acceptability in the country.

When its leaders issue statements that sound like 'war cries' rather than playing the role of statesmen, it reduces itself to the level of the fringe groups. And when a Yasin Malik retorts and threatens that 'the yatra can set the sub-continent afire', it gets too ugly.

How will this sort of politics help the country or even the BJP?


Mahrukh said...

Good work of exposing these cheats.

suds said...

Am sure good sense will prevail and the Yatra be cancelled and the cadres sent back or arrested. Having said that,Kashmir is indeed a pampered state. I dont when was the last time stone throwing and arson were classified as innocent acts.

But on the same note, what was the need for the Shahi Imam and all the sundry to offer namaz at an encroachment in Delhi.Aren't there any other mosques in India? on top of it sheila dikshit gives an assurance that the land will be handed over to muslism even if the court decides otherwise.

As long as this duplicity exists, BJP will exploit the space.

Talking Skull said...

"True there are separatists and there is a strong sentiment for Azadi but it doesn't mean that things should be given such a twist that create a false impression about the state among the mind of millions of Indians. "

Lot of us remember how Kashmiris were allowed to wave Pakistani flags in the face of the army while the same government looked the other way. Your comments of 'healing touch' and roundabout defence of Kashmiri fanatics is a sorry attempt at supporting appeasement.

As for the BJP, it is still smarting from the humiliation of election defeats and has no worthwhile leaders to rein in the jokers devising its national strategies.

But, what intrigues me is that the seculars supported 'Pakistan Zindabaad', separatist diatribes and Pakistani flags in the garb of freedom of speech and other such nonsense. But the same stupid logic is not extended to others.

In a match of competitive stupidity, the rules should be consistent and equitable.

indscribe said...
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indscribe said...

@ Mahrukh, Suds: One hopes that there is no violence and no politicisation of the issue. Republic Day is a sacred occasion and there must not be any violent showdown.

Suds, hope you remember how Bajrang Dal or Ram Sene cadres beat up women, blacken faces, pelt stones every Valentine's Day, keep disrupting fashion shows, functions across towns in India.
Political parties and their wings during dharnas and bandhs, do similar things--smashing vehicles, pelting stones at shops that are open. Unfortunatley such organised acts are not considered violence and people are let off elsewhere.

In Kashmir, the difference is that such youths are SHOT. They get killed. So I don't think how they are pampered. I have no extra love for Kashmiris but sometimes a lot is overlooked, specially the plight of Kashmiri youths outside the state, who want to study and go to other states.
@ Talking skull: Friend. Appeasement! You are speaking politicians' words.

I am sure you know much about other sorts of appeasements also.
When RSS that had no role in freedom movement becomes the flagbearer of nationalism, perhaps anything can pass off as patriotism.

Everyone is appeased somewhere and discriminated somewhere else. Not just Tribals, Dalits, Muslims, everyone including Uppre Caste are a minority somewhere.

We have seen the situation in our neighbouring country where religion-centric jingoism has wreaked havoc. At least we should be more pragmatic now.

We can argue alot but what's the use! After all, heated exchangers leave ill-feelings....kya faida!

Talking Skull said...

@ Indscribe

I am no big fan of BJP, and there is no doubt that this tamasha is for scoring political brownie points.

But, I am still searching an an answer for why people did not raise their vocal chords when Pakistan was being glorified in Kashmir, while BJP's act is drawing so much criticism? I am only questioning the duplicity.

As for appeasement, I don't want to broach that topic. At the end of the day, most of us make our choices on governance, politics and social interactions based on our class, caste and religion. We thoroughly deserve the scoundrels we see in the parliament - we keep electing people who seem to be "one of us".

Anonymous said...

Ok what plan they have for rehabilation of kashmiri pandits ...mindless guys keeps throwing stones after harassing pandits out.

Anonymous said...

See the link below of pakistani flag being hosted at lal chowk in 2010. Where was the Indian muslim hiding when this happened?

it is strange that you had no problems when pakistani flag is hosted, but India flag sounds disgusting to you?

indscribe said...

Anons: Where is the link? Perhaps you are 'disgusted' and that's why you use the word.

I love my flag and I am proud of my tricolour. You are perhaps the Sanghi who flies Saffron flag on RSS headquarters but talk about others' patriotism.

Please also speak about North Eastern states where openly anti-Indian slogans are shouted or Naxalite infested areas.

Kashmiri Pandits suffered. But so have Muslims or Dalits or even tribals and certain upper castes.

But does that mean we become communal and blame the other religion.

Does Gujarat Muslim start hating Hindus? Ten times more Muslims were killed in Gujarat and they still live in camps, did they leave Gujarat?

They stayed. They were not given job quotas. They are also proud of their land.

Stop speaking the language of foreign agents. After Indresh, guys like you who speak for India but get money from foreign agencies are exposed.

Don't dare question any other fellow Indian's patriotism. Or if you dare, do it with your proper name and identity.

Not like losers and cowards.

How do we know said...

You know what? Even i have no sympathy for youths "dying of bullets in JnK". Because, for all the youths that died, a lot of people who are sitting away from their homes in uniform also died. And their fault was that the locals cannot keep domestic peace. The onus of keeping peace in the state lies with the people of the state.

You cannot deny that Kashmir has special status. You cannot deny that there is separatism in Kashmir.

What you are doing is focusing on the other problem areas of the country, and of the party, to take attention away from the absolute act itself.

True, it is for political mileage, just like the Jessica issue was for TRPs too. But it is about a point. That it is NOT Possible to hoist the tricolor in Kashmir and still be popular. That the Pakistani flag is waved in Kashmir. And that it IS religion based. ABSOLUTELY religion based.

SO, what the BJP is tyring to communicate to the rest of the country is that kashmir is a state where, BECAUSE of the local people, there is no law and order. BECAUSE of the separatists, forget the local police, even the army cannot maintain order.
Can you deny any of this?

About youths getting "shot" - honestly, tell me, what is to blame for army atrocities? The separatism. End the separatism and then see how the Indian state treats its people.

And THEN, you write a post about things in Kashmir.

Oh, and before you talk about the political and economic alienation of Kashmir being the cause for separatism, lets go back and check.. perhaps, it was the other way round? While there was no separatism in the valley, tourism and trade had mae it a fairly prosperous state.

Anonymous said...

When I said "Indian muslim", I meant THIS WEBSITE (www.anindianmuslim.com). Sorry for the miscommunication.

And, here is the link that I forgot to include:


Rest of your post, I don't want to respond for I don't see everything else around me in saffron. Good luck!!

!!! said...


To hell with BJP... tell me simply this. As a Kashmiri Pandit - if there is no place for a tricolour in Kashmir - what place is there for me as an Indian and Tricolor lover. What the govt in J&K is doing today is bending backwards to please the terrorists/Hurriyat... exactly what happened 21 years ago.

Those who claim that we love Kashmiri Pandits and they are welcome back - need to answer this today - if they cant tolerate an Indian flag in valley, how will they tolerate 500,000 Kashmiri Pandits. If tricolor is not safe at one place in Srinagar - how would these minorities be safe in the valley.
And that my dear is the essence of our exodus from the valley. Of course, the naive can continue to believe that kashmiri Pandits walked out of Kashmir to take a honeymoon planned by Jagmohan

Omar - who made a chest thumping speech in Parliament claiming that he was an Indian and a Muslim - also said that Kashmiris would not give an inch of Kashmir for Amarnath yatra. There itself - they eliminated the existence of Kashmiri Pandits from the identity of Kashmir. Rest just follows...

Hades said...

Love that point about the RSS not accepting the Indian flag.

indscribe said...
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indscribe said...

!!!: Bhai, I know. But BJP could have done something for KPs but they also never did anything except paying lip service. Omar's stand hasn't earned him a goodwill. Neither realpolitik, nor statesmanship.

Anon: Thanks for clarifying. I hope you understand that one does gets agitated over questioning patriotism.

Regarding flag, it is absolutely unacceptable to hoist any other flag. We all know there has been militancy in the state and surely the separatists must have tried this but, as you also know, it is not a permanent feature.

Such one-off photograph doesn't mean that Pakistani flag is hoisted at Lal Chowk. Anyway, it would have been better had you commented with your name.

HDWK: See, It is only context of the yatra that I said it. I don't have extra heartbeats for Kashmiris than the rest of my fellow Indian brothers.

Do you think that Kashmiris don't realise that even if they consider they have 'suffered', they wouldn't have got a better deal had they been with Pakistan.

See, youths often go on rampage but it can't be equated with terrorism. Have we forgotten Mandal agitation. Or when Gujjars go on rampage do we shoot them?

If there are a few hundreds or thousand hot-headed youths in JK, we can't label that the entire state or its populace has separatist tendencies. Clearly, it was also either sponsored or the adrenaline rush in youths as it subsided.

I just don't understand that by the poorly planned yatra, what has the nation achieved or even the BJP achieved? The party gave the impression that J&K is a disputed territory and ultimately couldn't even reach there.

NC-Congress stance was equally strange and poor. Had they gone to Lal Chowk and unfurled flag, it would have sent a much better message. But when things appear changing steadily for the better, why put them on a boil again. That's my point.

Hades: Thanks for visiting and leaving behind your comment.

Anonymous said...

"Those who claim that we love Kashmiri Pandits and they are welcome back - need to answer this today - if they cant tolerate an Indian flag in valley, how will they tolerate 500,000 Kashmiri Pandits."

you are indirectly relating the tricolor with Hindus, you mean when tricolor cannot be tolerated then how the Hindus will be. Thats what the point is Indian and mainstream is hindu is dominant and want to wipe out diversity!!

indscribe said...

Anon: Kindly talk sensibly. Indian flag is flown in J&K and at every official building and during functions in Sri Nagar.

BJP is engaged in shameless politics. What have they done for Pandits? They do stupid things.

If I ask you prove that you are son of your parents, do I have the right to question it?

Ram said...

It is not just a question of mere flag hosting. We all know that the Kashmiri people don't like anything Indian.

I have no doubt if provided with a choice of plebiscite they will definitely choose for independence.

Anonymous said...

Very well written piece...this exposes the duplicity of the BJP's poliicts. My only worry is that BJP and RSS and other related organisations are doing the politics under the garb of nationalism. They should openly declare their intentions and do the politics in the same way. They proclaim themselves to be nationalistic and at the same time work against the very concept of India and conceal the real intentions. They infact go a step further by always accusing the minority community of drag this country in chaos