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Petition for R-Day for Kashmir

Srinagar, Dec. 11: A former central officer from Kashmir has moved the high court saying the state should celebrate Republic Day on the day its own constitution was adopted or came into effect.

Retired Indian Forest Service officer Abdul Qayoom Khan’s petition has been admitted in the middle of a debate, sparked by Narendra Modi, on Article 370 that gives the state special status including a separate Constitution, flag and a penal code.

The state’s Constitution was adopted by its constituent Assembly on November 17, 1956, and came into effect on January 26, 1957.

But Khan, who retired as the state’s chief conservator of forests last year, said he had sought a clarification in his petition whether the state celebrates its own Republic day on January 26 or that of India’s.

Khan has argued that Jammu and Kashmir is a “semi-sovereign state” and said a key reason for filing the plea is to ensure “demonstration of dignity to the state flag by the state government”.

“The whole of India is governed by Constitution of India but we are partly governed by Constitution of India and partly by the Constitution of J&K,” Khan told this correspondent today.

If the state clarifies that it celebrates a “joint Republic Day”, it should also unfurl the state flag along with the national flag, Khan said.

The state neither organises any event on November 17 — the day its Constitution was adopted — nor is the state flag unfurled during official celebrations on January 26, Khan said.

“It is prayed that all constitutional authorities be commanded to celebrate Republic day of the state of J&K when it adopted the Constitution of the state (November 17)/(or) the Constitution becoming enforceable (January 26) with dignity and honour demonstrating the sanctity of the state flag,” Khan has said in his petition.

The state flag is red with three equidistant white vertical strips of same width and a white plough in the middle.

But Supreme Court lawyer and patron of the Jammu-based Panthers Party said the state could not have a separate or joint Republic Day. “Section 3 of the J&K Constitution states that J&K is, and shall be, an integral part of India. It is not a republic but one of the states of the country.”

Khan, however, argued that Jammu and Kashmir was India’s only state “whose sovereignty was divided” and, therefore, should observe its own Republic Day.

The petitioner has also called for mounting the state flag by all constitutional authorities in the state — on buildings, offices and cars.