Flag equality cry from PDP

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By MUZAFFAR RAINA
  • Published 27.02.11
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PDP patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed at a rally in Srinagar on Saturday. (AFP)

Srinagar, Feb. 26: Kashmir’s Opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) proposes to introduce a bill that seeks to treat the state flag on a par with the Tricolour, days after the party released a controversial map of undivided Kashmir.

Party legislator Nazam-ud-din Bhat, who plans to move the private member’s bill once the Assembly’s budget session gets under way from Monday, said the state flag symbolised Kashmir’s separate identity within the Indian union.

“The Constitution of our state provides for a separate flag and the relevant section only describes how this flag will look like. I want an amendment where it is made obligatory to hoist our state flag on all official occasions,” Bhat said.

Although the state flag remains hoisted at the civil secretariat and all official vehicles carry it along with the Tricolour, the deep-red state flag — with a plough in its middle and three white stripes on one side — is not unfurled during official programmes such as Independence Day or Republic Day.

The decision to move the bill came days after the PDP released a map of undivided Kashmir that had areas under Chinese and Pakistani occupation marked in red and green.

PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti had said the map displayed the boundaries as they existed in 1947 but sources said it was an attempt to “legalise” the Chinese and Pakistani occupation of parts of the state.

Bhat said the purpose of the bill was to honour the state flag. “Merely providing for a flag,” he said, “means nothing unless it is given some kind of an honour.”

The PDP leader said the bill needed the support of a two-thirds majority and he expected rival National Conference to back it. “The National Conference has pioneered the cause of special status for the state and they should support us,” he said.

Sources in the ruling National Conference said the party was unlikely to support the move. “They (PDP) only want to draw political mileage from it,” a party leader said. “An amendment bill needs a two-third majority and they (PDP) have only 21 MLAs (in the 87-member House).”

As the PDP geared to move the flag bill, party patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed today said the Prime Minister should call a “roundtable conference” if he wanted to resolve the Kashmir issue and invite all stakeholders, including separatists.

Mufti appeared to endorse the moderate Hurriyat faction’s conditions for starting a dialogue with the Centre: de-induction of forces from civilian areas, revocation of the army special powers act and release of all arrested youths and political detainees.

Ladakh logo

The Congress-led Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council in Leh has adopted a new logo that will be used as a flag on its official vehicles instead of the state flag.

“We will use the logo as a flag on our vehicles on one side while there will be the Tricolour on the other side. The logo will also be used in our letter pads. So far as official functions are concerned, only the Tricolour will be hoisted,” chief executive councillor Ringzin Spalbar said.

Spalbar said the council had never used the state flag since it was formed in 1995. “We will continue that practice (of not using it).”