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Kashmir vs Sindh in anthem

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R. VENKATARAMAN   |   Delhi   |   Published 20.09.04, 12:00 AM

New Delhi, Sept. 20: If Sanjeev Bhatnagar has his way, Indians would be saying Kashmir and not Sindh when they sing the national anthem.

But before that the Union government would have to agree.

The Supreme Court today told the Asian Games speed skater ? who contended that ?Sindh no longer forms part of the territory of (the) Union of India?, though it was when the song was composed ? to ?draw? the government?s attention to his plea.

The bench of Chief Justice R.C. Lahoti and Justices G.P. Mathur and P.P. Naolekar gave him ?liberty? to do so and dismissed the petition as beyond the purview of the judicial process.

Bhatnagar had cited the constituent assembly debate to back his argument that the national anthem, composed by Rabindranath Tagore to welcome the then visiting Prince of Wales, could be modified according to the geographical composition of the country.

At the debate, Rajendra Prasad, the first President of independent India, had argued that ?the composition consisting of the words and music known as ?Jana Gana Mana? is the national anthem of India, subject to such alterations? as the government may authorise as occasion arises?.

Bhatnagar said ?Kashmir? should replace ?Sindh? in the appropriate place in the national anthem. The petitioner, who appeared in person in the court, argued that reciting the word Sindh while singing the anthem was ?violative of the sovereignty of Pakistan? and was also ?hurting the feelings of more than 100 crore people in India?.

?As a sportsman whenever I was to stand in attention for the anthem I used to wonder how Sindh province could still be included in our territory and I did extensive research, including on the constituent assembly debates, to draft the petition myself,? he told The Telegraph.

Bhatnagar, a practising advocate in the apex court, said he would appeal to the government and, if necessary, would again appeal to the country?s highest court through a fresh petition.

A government official, however, said the Centre may not be able to do anything in the matter as it requires an ?amendment? to the law relating to the national anthem, akin to that of the flag code, and a political consensus may not come through.

?It is a lengthy process of effecting an amendment to the National Anthem Act by way of introducing a bill in Parliament. It depends on the political will and consensus among all the political parties,? the official said.

Former deputy Prime Minister .K. Advani, who is from the Sindh region of undivided India, could not be reached for comment.

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