Valley alliance raises its flag
The People’s Alliance, forged to fight for the restoration of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, on Saturday adopted the erstwhile state’s scrapped flag as its symbol, seen as a rallying cry to force Delhi to reverse last year’s decisions.
The fledgling alliance also got a formal structure with the National Conference’s Farooq Abdullah and the People’s Democratic Party’s Mehbooba Mufti being unanimously chosen as its president and vice-president, respectively.
People’s Conference leader Sajad Lone was made the chief spokesman of the seven-party alliance. CPM leader Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami and Anantnag MP Hasnain Masoodi of the National Conference have been selected convener and coordinator.
“The biggest thing to happen (on Saturday) was that we searched for what should be our symbol. We all thought the best tribute… will be to adopt the symbol (flag) that would unfurl atop the secretariat in Jammu and Kashmir,” Lone said after a meeting where the decision was taken.
Jammu and Kashmir had its own constitution, flag and penal code, all of which were scrapped after the abrogation of key provisions of Article 370 on August 5, 2019. The state lost its special status and was split into Union Territories.
The flag was removed from the civil secretariat offices in Srinagar and Jammu last year. The decision to adopt it as the symbol of the alliance came a day after Mehbooba ruffled feathers in the BJP by vowing not to hold the Tricolour until the state flag was reinstated.
BJP activists on Saturday hit the streets in Jammu and elsewhere, accusing her of insulting the national flag.
Mehbooba countered that it was the BJP that had insulted the Tricolour.
“(The national) flag stands for diversity and peaceful coexistence amongst all. If anyone has insulted the Tiranga, it is the BJP that persecutes minorities and sows division and hatred. The flag of India was disrespected the day BJP leaders carried it to justify rapists of a nine-year-old,” she tweeted.
The PDP president was referring to the protests in Jammu’s Kathua in support of the men who had raped and murdered a child.
Jammu and Kashmir BJP president Ravinder Raina on Saturday urged lieutenant governor Manoj Sinha to take cognisance of Mehbooba’s remarks and book her for sedition.
Abdullah said the BJP had launched a false propaganda, painting the Valley’s leaders as anti-national.
“The People’s Alliance is not anti-national. We want to tell them we are certainly anti-BJP, there is no doubt about that. They have tried to destroy the Constitution of the country, divide the nation and destroy its federal structure through what they did last year,” the former chief minister said.
“But I want to tell them, we are not anti-national. We want the rights of the people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh to be restored. Our fight is for that and we want nothing more,” he added.
Abdullah said efforts to divide Jammu and Kashmir in the name of religion would fail. “This is not a religious fight. This is for the identity of our watan (homeland,” he said.
Earlier in the day, the National Conference chief visited Durga Nag temple in Srinagar to join Pandits in Ram Navami celebrations.
Almost all the leaders of the alliance had been arrested or put under house arrest before August 5, 2019. Following their staggered release, they have joined hands to fight for the restoration of the special status, resisting pressure from the Centre.