JK Govt stops BJP’s Ekta Yatra
It’s a historic mistake, say arrested leaders
Lakhanpur, Jan 25: Jammu and Kashmir government on Tuesday foiled the attempt of Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) activists to enter into the state. Amid high drama and surcharged atmosphere, BJP's Ekta yatra was stopped at Lakhanpur, border of Jammu and Kashmir, and three of its senior leaders were arrested. They (arrested leaders) lashed out at the JK government and the Centre for what they termed committing a "historic mistake".
A day after being thrown out of Jammu and Kashmir, senior leaders Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and Ananth Kumar tried to re-enter the state along with the Ekta Yatra being led by the party's youth wing president Anurag Thakur but it was foiled by police who had erected a barricade and laid spools of concertina wire.
The high level drama ended on a low note as the BJP activists, including its top leadership, courted arrest immediately after the Yatra entered into the state border, here this evening.
Police and paramilitary personnel out numbered the BJP activists as the state had made unprecedented security arrangements.
Though it was being expected that the situation may turn volatile, the day long wait for the police and paramilitary personnel ended up peacefully as the BJP leaders announced their court arrest.
They were packed in the buses, parked by the police on Lakhanpur-Madhopur Bridge and taken to Police Training Academy Kathua. The senior leaders were, however, accommodated at a private hotel near Lakhanpur.
Barricades and barbed wire walls were been put up at all the seven entry points at Lakhanpur. The state government had already imposed section 144 of CrPC at in the district to foil the attempt.
The JK government had sealed the border with Punjab, including putting barbed wire on the bridge over Ravi river linking Madhopor and Lakhanpur towns.
"What can be more unfortunate that those who burn the national flag are provided security while those holding the national flag are stopped," said Swaraj as she was being arrested along with Jaitley, Kumar and Thakur on entry into Jammu and Kashmir from Punjab.
They were arrested for violating Section 144 which prohibits assembly of more than four persons at any particular place.
"What is our crime? Why are we being arrested? We have been marching peacefully," Swaraj said while addressing thousands of party supporters carrying the national flag.
Earlier, Swaraj and Jaitley addressed a public meeting at Madhopur on Punjab border and vowed to go ahead with the plans to unfurl the national tricolour at Lal Chowk in Srinagar.
"Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has said if you visit the state, the separatists will be provoked. This shows the psychological surrender (by the state government) before the separatists. It is a historic mistake," Jaitley, leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, said.
Later, a group of activists were seen crossing the bridge on the river Ravi on the Punjab-JK border where they were stopped by security forces.
The BJYM activists continued to shout slogans demanding that they be allowed to proceed to Srinagar to hoist the tricolour at Lal Chowk.
Jaitley said when a "group of separatists" gathered in New Delhi and made anti-India speeches, the government did not take action contending that freedom of speech was their right.
"But when we took the tricolour to unfurl it at Lal Chowk, they dub it as a crime," he said.
Jaitley said the central government too had shown panic reaction to the Yatra despite BJP's repeated appeals that their actions would not breach peace.
Swaraj said they were determined to hoist the national flag at Lal Chowk in Srinagar tomorrow.
"We told the authorities last night in Jammu to either arrest or allow us to proceed further for the party rally there," she said.
"There were two condemnable speeches, one from (JKLF chief) Yasin Malik and another from Omar Abdullah. Yasin dared saying 'I will see who hoists flag and of which country.' I replied to that person that we will hoist flag and that of India," she said.
Omar Abdullah told us 'J&K govt can't provide security'. We don't want security, we don't expect it from you but allow us to enter Jammu and Kashmir. Allow us to hoist flag in Lal Chowk.
"We don't want to confront our security forces. We want to confront separatists. If they kill us, we won't hold you responsible Mr Abdullah," the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha said.
"We request don't stop us. We are firm, we will hoist tricolour tomorrow at Lal Chowk," Swaraj said.
On yesterday's developments, she said, "A policeman came inside our plane and told us to go back. We didn't budge. After 7 hours we were told we are under arrest and taken away in a car without knowing where we were heading towards. We were left here (Madhopur) in the dark with no one around. This is how you treat leaders of opposition?"
"We will head towards Jammu and then towards Kashmir Valley for hoisting national flag at Lal Chowk along with hundreds of our activists. Where-ever they stop us, we will sit there on a dharna till January 26," Swaraj told reporters.
The Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha said, "We will not leave till 6 PM tomorrow. We will sit on dharna till then. If they want to arrest us, they can do so at any place."
Lastupdate on : Tue, 25 Jan 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 25 Jan 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 26 Jan 2011 00:00:00 IST
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