Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader L.K. Advani on Thursday voiced support for the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha's (BJYM) plans to hoist the national Tricolour at Lal Chowk in Srinagar on Republic Day, despite demands from various quarters to drop the plan.

The Srinagar-bound Rashtriya Ekta Yatra started from Kolkata on January 12 led by BJYM president Anurag Thakur and reached the Capital on Thursday after traversing seven States in nine days.

Speaking at a reception accorded to the Yatra at the Constitution Club here, Mr. Advani wondered how hoisting the Tricolour could be viewed as throwing a challenge to anyone. “It is only the separatists who will see it as a challenge. Only the nation's enemies will be provoked by the national flag being hoisted,” he said.

Mr. Advani took exception to Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah's reported statement that the erstwhile princely State had only acceded to India and not merged with the country.

Drawing parallels between the present Yatra and the journey by Jan Sangh founder Syama Prasad Mookerjee to Kashmir where he died, Mr. Advani said while Mr. Mookerjee's death was an irreparable loss to the party, the nation benefited by the abolition of special privileges for the State soon after.

“I am not sure if it is linked, but soon after his death the permits for Indian citizens to visit Kashmir and the posts of Prime Minister and Sadr-e-Riyasat were abolished and the State came under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, Election Commission and other statutory bodies.”

Mr. Thakur who represents Hamirpur, Himachal Pradesh, in the Lok Sabha, said the Yatra was meant to protect the unity and integrity of the country.

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