It is hoped that good sense will prevail on the leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and they will give up their plans to hold their own flag-hoisting function in the Lal Chowk of Srinagar on the Republic Day on January 26.
2. They, like any other Indian, have a right to hold a flag-hoisting function anywhere in the country where Indian citizens are allowed to hoist the national flag without disturbing public peace. Under certain circumstances, this right, however legitimate, cannot be exercised. For example, when there is a curfew at the place where the flag is proposed to be hoisted.
3.One can understand the BJP's determination to go to Lal Chowk to hoist the flag if the local Government or the Government of India or the nationalist political parties of the State refrain from observing the Republic Day by hoisting the national flag.
4. That is not going to be so. The Governments----the State as well as the Central--- the various national institutions such as the Armed Forces and the central para-military and police forces and the nationalist political parties are going to observe the Republic Day by hoisting the national flag.
5. Only separatist elements, which challenge the unity of India, will not be doing so. The successful holding of the flag-hoisting functions by those mentioned in the previous para would be a fitting reply to the attempt of the separatists to organise a boycott of the Republic Day.
6. Yet one more function by BJP elements from outside the State is not going to add to the sanctity and the nationalist significance of the day. On the contrary, it is going to add to the difficulties of the security forces in maintaining law and order in view of possible attempts by separatist elements to disrupt the BJP's Lal Chowk function. If the BJP wants to help the security forces in maintaining law and order, it should refrain from actions such as holding a function of its own in the Lal Chowk.
7. Moreover, the ground situation in the Valley, which looked so pessimistic till a few months ago due to violence by stone-pelting elements in separatist processions, is showing some positive signs. Such incidents have come down. People are once again going about their normal tasks. There is a greater willingness to join the police instead of boycotting it as was often done in the past.
8. It is not yet normalcy in Srinagar, but a trend towards it. All right-thinking nationalist elements, whether resident in Jammu & Kashmir or outside, have a patriotic responsibility to contribute to a strengthening of this trend in order to convince the separatist elements that the time has come for a re-thinking on their objectives and tactics.
9. The separatists and the instigators of violence from Pakistan will be looking for an opportunity to create a set-back for the nationalist forces in order to revert to the kind of situation that prevailed till some months ago. The security forces are hoping against hope that they will be able to sustain the present trend towards an improvement and that political leaderships will come out with appropriate policies, gestures and actions towards the same end.
10. When almost all other political parties sense the delicate nature of the present situation and are conducting themselves with political maturity and a sense of nationalist responsibility, it is a pity that the BJP alone should conduct itself with unwise political opportunism in utter disregard of the advice and entreaties from others to give up the proposed course of action and should refuse to desist from actions that carry the risk of causing a set-back to the improving trend.
11.It is the bounden duty of all of us outside the State to strengthen the hands of the nationalist elements in the State which have been countering the separatists with great courage. By their unwise obstinacy, the BJP elements could end up be creating a situation that could weaken the hands of the local nationalist elements.
12. It is not the time for the BJP to flaunt its patriotism. All of us are patriots. It is time for it to conduct itself with wisdom and a sense of responsibility. ( 21-1-11)
( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. Efirstname.lastname@example.org )