The National Conference leadership has once again started to chant the autonomy mantra to woo voters. But Omar has yet to take action against the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council for abandoning the state flag. Two years ago, the LAHDC created a political storm in the state by adapting a new symbol and abandoning the use of the state flag. While the commoner in Jammu and Kashmir remained indifferent to the issue, the main opposition party of the state, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), took a serious note of the development.
The PDP president, Mahbooba Mufti, said it was an act to dilute the special status of the state. She made clear that any act aimed at diluting our special status would be vehemently opposed. Political circles equated it to the beginning of the trifurcation of the state. The LAHDC has taken a decision which the Legislative Assembly cannot afford to take but nothing moved in Srinagar. The Chief Minister, however, played cool. He saud the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) is as good as a municipality and like Srinagar Municipality it has a right to have its own logo and flag.
The Chief Minister further said that he was watching the developments and a final decision would be taken after ascertaining the facts. The Chief Minister’s `casual’ comments evoked some sarcastic remarks. Yes, Srinagar Municipality has its own symbol but it does not take political decisions. It is not even authorized, rather allowed to kill stray dogs. The Srinagar Municipality had procured poison worth Rs 15 lakhs a few years ago but it could not be administered to the canines for fear of the animal rights defenders. More than two years have passed since the LAHDC adapted the new symbol. The Chief Minister has not taken any action.
Most probably he did not want to annoy the Ladakh people then. But now the situation is different. While it will not be proper to say that the NC was rejected in Ladkah during the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections but it cannot be denied that Omar’s silence encouraged unscrupulous elements so much so that they demanded division status for Ladakh and it was granted as well.
The State flag, it may be mentioned, has been evoking heated discussions for the past few years. While LAHDC has taken the bold decision, the people of Jammu have always resented the state flag. They want Eak Nishaan, Eak Pradhan and Eak Vidhaan. And for the commoner in Kashmir it is a non-issue. But those who talk about restoration of autonomy have to uphold it and prevent its honour from being trampled.