Whose flag is this?

Engineer Rashid’s `heroics’ therefore make no sense. He is trying to impose the flag on a reluctant people.
Whose flag is this?
File Photo

Two years ago, MLA Engineer Rahid hoisted the state flag in Partp Park on June 6. He did it in response to denouncing of the flag by the BJP. A good number of people attended his function. The gesture evoked mixed reaction from different quarters. Some hailed the move and some rejected it as cheap politicking. The Engineer repeated the exercise this year.  

The flag has been a subject matter of controversy from the very beginning. It was   severely opposed by the RSS ideologue Shayama Prasad Muherjee. He launched a massive agitation against the flag. "Eak nishaan, Eak vidhaan and Eak Pradhan (One flag, one parliament and one Prime Minister)," he chanted this slogan and found many an admirer especially in Jammu.  

 The BJP has been vehemently agitating some issues which include state's own flag for the past few years. The BJP leader, Ashok Khajuria denounced the state flag.  His statement evoked severe reaction from the National Conference and the Awami National Conference (ANC) headed by Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah's daughter, Khalida Shah two years ago. Both ANC and NC have said that the people of state had laid down their lives for the flag. "People of Kashmir identify themselves with the flag", Khalida said in a statement issued during the controversy.  National Conference additional general secretary, Dr Mustafa Kamal lashed out at BJP leader Ashok Khujuria for his remarks over the state flag. "The flag has been accepted by New Delhi and Article 370 of the Indian constitution makes a mention of it", he said. "Nobody becomes an Indian by chanting Jana Gana Mana."  Kamal said. "Every Indian must have faith in secular principles that form the very foundation of the country", he said. The PDP president, Mahbooba Mufti also took strong exception to the `sacrilege' of the state flag by the BJP. 

There is no denying the fact that Kashmiris, by and large identified themselves with the flag during Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah's times. But contemporary Kashmir has a different story to tell.  The priorities in Kashmir have changed. Today Kashmiris perceive the flag as a symbol of enslavement. Jammu people did not like the flag from day one. They even launched an agitation against it. And as far as the people in Ladakah are concerned, they are as indifferent to the flag as the present day Kashmiri. Then whose aspirations does the red flag with three white lines and a plough represent?  The government has to ensure that the flag is accorded due respect.  The people of Jammu Kashmir are not sentimentally attached with the flag but upholding its honour is a constitutional compulsion for the pro-Indian political parties.  

The state government, however, is not interested in protecting the honour of the flag. A circular officials to hoist the state flag flag along with the tricolor at all official functions was issued. However, coalition compulsions forced the state government to withdraw the circular overnight. The government said the matter was in the high court and it will not be proper to sustain the circular.   

Omar Abdullah during his regime also reacted casually when the Ladakh Autonomous hill Development Council denounced the flag two years ago. Omar said even a municipality has its own flag. No action was taken and the matter was hushed up. The LAHDC has now permanently discarded the use of the state flag, it has been learnt.

The restoration of the honour and prestige of the state flag seems impossible during the current regime. The BJP will never allow it. It has to guard a huge constituency in Jammu where the flag is severely hated.

Engineer Rashid's `heroics' therefore make no sense.  He is trying to impose the flag on a reluctant people.  Of course he managed to get some `political jokers' at the function but by and large, the commoner's priorities have changed over the years.

The Engineer believes the Delhi Agreement of 1952 gave Jammu Kashmir its own flag. However, the late  NC General Secretary, Sheikh Nazir once admitted in an interview that the Delhi Agreement was never reduced to writing. The veteran leader meant that the agreement does not exist. But for the sake of arguments if it is accepted that the agreement exists, it is not a fact that the flag represents the aspirations of the people of Kashmir. In fact it is being perceived as a symbol of enslavement in contemporary Kashmir.

The Engineer also sung the anthem written by late Moulana Masoodi. Does Rashid know that the people have serious reservations about the very person of Massoodi? Even Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah failed to understand him (Aatish-e-Chinar).

What is the Engineer up to?  What does he actually want? Can he please explain? The message he conveys by hoisting the flag contradicts his own  stand on Kashmir dispute. He has time and again made it clear that he stands for right to self determination.

din.zahir@gmail.com 

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