Our Azadi Mahotsav

Tiranga epitomises sacrifice, belief in constitutionalism, regard for human values, faith in democracy, respect for equal rights of a citizen
Indian Flag [Image for representational purpose only]
Indian Flag [Image for representational purpose only]File/ GK

Euphoria has gripped the country. People in droves are out waving the National Flag, enthusiastically . The celebrations of 75th Year of Independence, Azadi Ka Mahotsav, are under way in a big scale. In Kashmir also government and the ruling political party have left nothing to chance. Frenetic effort is on to ensure that Tiranga is hoisted on every house top, tree and the lamp post. Will mere unfurling of the National Flag on every nook and corner of Jammu and Kashmir serve the purpose without having a regard for the necessary commitments the Tricolor stands for?

We have many reasons to celebrate the event, primarily for the one that among countries that formed part of British empire in South Asia and came out of its yoke in 1947, India alone has shown regard to the democratic stability and a pluralistic polity. Tiranga epitomizes sacrifice, belief in constitutionalism, regard for human values, faith in democracy, respect for equal rights of a citizen- irrespective of caste, color and creed. The difference in colours blended in a one piece of a cloth depicts unity in diversity. Carrying it head high and hoisting it atop a dwelling place, indeed, fills one with joy, especially when the opportunity has come hard, after a long toil with the flow of sweat and blood of hundreds of thousands. Tiranga, hoisted on a house top of a common Kashmiri reveals an encouraging scene. It could be much more so if voluntariness in the show could be ascertained !

When Articles 370 and 35A were abrogated, Prime Minister Narandra Modi declared that many benefits and rights will be extended to Jammu and Kashmir, and a new era of development will dawn upon the state. L G Manoj Sinha wrote in his piece published in a national daily: “Dreams and aspirations are back in the lexicon of a common man in Jammu and Kashmir which has encouraged us to work harder. The synergy is fuelling development. Har Ghar Tiranga has heralded a new dawn of Ek Bharat Shresh Bharat, which will offer more space for brotherhood and humanity in J&K”.

It is not that people in Kashmir are carrying Tricolor first time in their hands: they have done it in the past. It is indeed heartwarming for a nationalist to see Tirnaga flying everywhere in Kashmir, but at times Kashmiri’s love for the flag had ebbed out. That underlines the need to distinguish between tokenism – necessitated by compulsion and opportunism, and the sincerity when such a scene is in view.

Hoisting of the national flag is not just waving a piece of cloth, dyed in three colors. To a flag bearer it must give a sense of belonging, a hope and strengthen his faith in the constitutionalism: afford an assurance that his rights like having his own government, respect for his citizenry rights, freedom of speech and a right to protest in a peaceful manner and protection from arbitrary state actions, will flow to him unhindered. Today, in J&K the need of such an assurance is compelling, if a common man has to retain an enduring and true love for the Tiranga .

Jammu and Kashmir is without Assembly since Nov 2018 after BJP pulled out of Mehbooba Mufti led coalition government. Three years have gone by when Article 370 was abrogated, the delimitation process is complete, yet there is no indication when the election will be held to constitute Assembly and give people chance to have their own government. Constitutionalism must prevail over unilateralism.

L G has talked of bringing back “dreams and aspirations to the lexicon of common man of J&K.” For that to happen, people’s wishes have to be respected – though within the framework of country’s constitution. So long as right to free speech is curbed and threat of draconian laws visiting an aspirant keeps looming large, no one can have a dream of his prosperous future. Har Ghar Tiranga in Kashmir should mean absence of fear and government’s resolve to create a conducive atmosphere where “dream and aspirations” will really make re entry to “ lexicon of a common man of J&K .”

The increased tourist flow is no indication of normalcy. Tourists have been visiting Kashmir from the middle 1990s. Similarly, building a road here and constructing a bridge there will not determine peace has returned to the Valley. Terrorist incidents may have come down but recruitment to the their ranks is going up, alarmingly. Kashmiri Pandits have once again become targets of terrorist attacks. Those employed under PM Package are on roads demanding safety at work places. They should be heard with empathy and made part of the celebrations.

Expansion of BJP shouldn’t be at the expense of other political parties – whose nationalistic credentials were never in doubt and who, when need arose, stood by the Indian State. They must get due space and a level playing field to express their political view.

B L SARAF, former Principal District & Sessions Judge

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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