Symbols or substance, the remains of Autonomy need to be safeguarded by us all; but who takes the matter seriously!

Let’s remember that celebrating state flag day never means accepting the status-quo, but a pledge not to surrender and continue the fight for what we were promised.
Symbols or substance, the remains of Autonomy need to be safeguarded by us all; but who takes the matter seriously!

Continuing with its practice, Awami Itihaad Party celebrated 5th State Flag Day in Srinagar on 7th of June 2018. Cutting across political affiliations, people hailing from different walks of life attended the ceremony and State Flag Day was celebrated amid emotional scenes. While the response from common masses all around the state has been quite satisfactory during last five years and especially youth have started displaying the state anthem and the flag at sports and other events but the intellectual class and the political parties have been giving the event a cold shoulder.

Huriyat needs to be reminded of its huge concerns it showed when Article 35-A and 370 were dragged to the Supreme Court, though by fringe elements but fully backed by none other than Prime Minister of India himself. That time from Geelani Sahab to Mirwaiz and Salah-ud-din to Yaseen Malik everyone took a strong  exception and openly promised to protect it at all costs, but are feeling shy from doing anything concrete to preserve the Autonomy. It sounded very good at that moment that both separatist and the mainstream parties showed their concern and made New Delhi go slow, if not defensive over the issue. But once the dust temporarily settled down everybody forgot that the elephant is still in the room.

Let Kashmiris ensure that whatsoever special status or autonomy they have within Indian constitution needs to preserved and what they were promised including Right to Self Determination should be taken to logical end. One visible sign of the special status, and J&K being neither India's integral part nor Pakistan's Jugular vein, is its own flag and anthem which state had got on 7th of June 1952 through constituent assembly. But one fails to understand that neither the mainstream parties, who talk of a solution within Indian constitution, nor united resistance leadership which had taken pledge to protect whatsoever the state had within ambits of Indian constitution, show interest or sincerity to protect the remains of Autonomy. It should have never been a big deal for NC and PDP to at least protect the state flag, a symbol of our special identity and declare 7th June State Flag Day. It would have been a very concrete idea to aware masses and make Kashmiris feel state flag as their own flag, if Govt. would have then or now declared 7th June as a state holiday. However both the regional parties seem to be confused and out of mind and have sold their conscience to the vested lobby in New Delhi.

Those down playing significance of state flag should answer that if people of Pak Administered Kashmir do have a separate flag, a separate anthem, their own Prime Minister, their own President and even their own supreme court, why couldn't Kashmiris protect the same on this side of LOC. It is worth to mention that flag of Azad Jammu Kashmir always flies high at par with Pakistani flag at every single army and ranger post all across the LOC.

Those down playing state flag are doing a disservice to their people as owing the flag and respecting it will not only send message to New Delhi that it has to move beyond autonomy to resolve Kashmir issue but will give always Kashmiris a sense of belonging till they get right to self determination.  It is a bitter reality that like congress exploited Indian flag for its political benefits, NC has been always doing the same with our flag. That is the reason why a good number of youth don't believe in the state flag as its resemblance with NC's flag and the politics of opportunism and exploitation played by NC from time to time has confused the mindset of the youth about the relevance and significance of state flag.

It would be in the interests of everyone if the state assembly by consensus makes some concrete attractive changes in the flag. NC rather making it a battle of ego should offer its support in the next assembly session when I will be moving a resolution seeking the amendment in the shape of state flag. All nationalist forces must support the resolution so that the honor and dignity of state flag is restored. Let's remember that celebrating state flag day never means accepting the status-quo, but a pledge not to surrender and continue the fight for what we were promised.

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