Honour the state flag

With the PDP and BJP forming a new coalition government in Kashmir, many questions have been raised on this dispensation. Since its formation BJP has been vehemently against having two flags in India. The BJP for the past two years has vehemently agitated on some issues, which include state’s own flag, Article 370 and the repeal of Armed forces Special Powers Act.  While the BJP has made it clear that it will opt for a debate on Article 370 but on the issue of flag it has remained adamant. The BJP leader, Ashok Khajuria has repeatedly denounced the Jammu and Kashmir state flag. Two years ago his statement on discarding state’s flag evoked severe reaction from the National Conference and the Awami National Conference headed by Sher-e-Kashmir’s daughter, Khalida Shah. Both ANC and NC have maintained that the people of state have laid down their lives for the flag. A visibly angry leader of the NC and a former minister, Dr Mustafa Kamal lashed out at BJP leader 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. Angry Kamal told Khujuria that chanting Jana Gana Mana does not make anyone Indian. Taking a dig at the BJP the NC leader said, “Every Indian must have faith in secular principles that form the very foundation of the country.” Not content with that a seemingly angry Kamal used words like `anti-national element’ for Khujuria and `anti-Muslim’ for BJP. The PDP president, Mehbooba Mufti has also taken strong exception to the `sacrilege’ of the state flag by the BJP.  The commonality on the sacredness of the state flag, by and large has remained. There is no denying the fact that Kashmiris, by and large identified themselves with the state flag during Sher-e-Kashmir’s life. But contemporary Kashmir has a different story to tell.  The priorities in Kashmir have changed. Today Kashmiris perceive the state flag as a symbol of enslavement. Jammu people did not like the flag from the day one. They even launched an agitation against it. And as far as the people in Ladakh are concerned, they are as indifferent to the flag as the present day Kashmiri. Then whose aspiration does the red flag with three white lines and a plough represent?  The indifference of the people notwithstanding PDP has to ensure that the flag is accorded the due respect. The people of Jammu and Kashmir are not sentimentally attached with the flag but upholding its honour is a constitutional compulsion for the pro-Indian political parties.