Srinagar: The withdrawal of the circular calling for maintaining sanctity of the state flag shows how political parties can change colours before and after elections, said Abdul Qayoom Khan, a former PDP man who had moved court in 2013 to seek a check on breach of the flag’s honour.
“To my surprise, state government all of a sudden issued a circular giving partial relief sought by me before the high court but its withdrawal within 24 hours was more surprising and it shows how different they (political parties) are when it comes to seeking votes and delivering on the ground,” Khan, a former forest officer, told Kashmir Reader.
“While National Conference-led government chose not to reply to my petition, the PDP had promised state’s dignity and honour by restoring the Article 370 to its original position and the constitution is a symbol of it. I don’t know the reason why this was withdrawn and I am sad about it,” he said.
As per Article 144 of constitution, the state flag is rectangular in shape, red in colour with three equidistant vertical strips of equal width next to the staff and a white plough in the middle with handle facing the stripes.
The deep red field representing labour, charged with a plough to represent agriculture while three stripes represent the three geographic regions of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh.
“It (the withdrawal of circular) does not change the constitutional position but it has a bearing on the mindset of the government and political parties that what is their stated position before people when they talk of preserving and protecting JK’s autonomy and distinct constitutional position and when it comes to practice,” Khan said and asked government to explain why it withdrew the circular.
“Their conduct is contradictory and it is for them to give a clarification. We will definitely pursue the case in all forums and before the court.”
Khan said that as per the Jammu and Kashmir Prevention of Insult to State Honors Act 1979, non-hoisting of the state’s flag amounts to an insult.
“The Act clearly says that anybody who shows insult to the flag shall be imprisoned for one year.”
Besides orders to the constitutional authorities to discharge obligations regarding the state flag, Khan has sought directions to celebrate November 17 as state’s Republic Day, saying it was the day when the state constitution was adopted and became enforceable.
“All the constitutional authorities including the council of ministers, institution of governor, institution of high court, legislative assembly and legislative council has to hoist the state flag as all of them are holding the offices under this constitution and they are taking oath on this constitution and are supposed to respect this constitution.”
Khan said his petition was pending before the high court for the past one-and-a half years.
“The state has time and again chosen not to file reply. It was listed on November 10 and I had filed an (application) seeking directions that state be asked to celebrate November 17 as Republic Day and in case state choose not to celebrate it, then people should be allowed to celebrate it in Lal Chowk and state should not create any hindrance,” he said.
However, he said, the court granted more time and directed advocate general to make the statement on behalf of the state.
Khan, who had joined PDP on February 19 2014, resigned last month after later decided to form government with the BJP.
“I resigned on February 27 2015. The reason is that everybody knows that PDP fought this election in an atmosphere of total polarization and the main manifesto was to stop ‘Mission 44’ and stop BJP from coming into power,” he said.
“I had my self voted for the first time after 1977 first time and I like other Kashmiris were tempted to vote to prevent BJP from forming the government.”
He said that the people of Kashmir thought that there was threaten to state’s constitutional position and special status which prompted the vote for parties who promised to stop BJP.
“It was the reason for high voter turnout. Now everybody knows that hands were joined with those against whom the votes were sought. I thought even if I can do nothing, I can at least protect my conscience and I dissociated myself from PDP.”