Cracking down on the BJP's Ekta Yatra, the Jammu and Kashmir government on Monday night “forcibly” sent BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and Ananth Kumar to Punjab. Earlier, they were stopped from entering into Jammu city.
As they were struggling to come out of the airport, hundreds of BJP workers led by State leaders Ashok Khajuria protested against the Jammu and Kashmir government's action. They raised slogans against the Omar Abdullah government. Traffic was blocked for nearly two hours and later the police swung into action and dispersed the mob. MLAs Chaman Lal Gupta and Ashok Khajuria and scores of activists were arrested.
“Agenda of separatists”
State BJP spokesman Jitender Singh told journalists: “This is an outrageous act by the Omar Abdullah government which has detained our leaders at the airport. This is a picture akin to the Emergency days. They [authorities] are furthering the agenda of the separatists and undermining the nationalist element.”
But the ruling National Conference accused the BJP of attempting to ruin peace and normality in Kashmir, and said the government would not allow the BJP youth wing to carry out its plan of hoisting the national flag in Srinagar.
Earlier, high drama was witnessed at the airport.
Mr. Jaitley reportedly told State officials that the BJP leaders were within their rights to go to the city and the government could not stop them. However, the administration categorically said they should return to Delhi. At this, Mr Jaitley reportedly told the police, “You should either allow us to go to the city or arrest us.”
But as Mr. Abdullah, in consultation with Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram, had given clear orders not to allow any leader to enter the city with the objective of holding a rally, the authorities at the airport implemented the decision.
As the BJP leaders refused to budge, Principal Secretary (Home) B.R. Sharma, the Home Secretary, Director-General of Police Kuldip Khoda and District Magistrate Jammu Sanjiv Verma reached the airport, and held discussions with them till late in the evening in the “VIP Lounge,” but failed to convince them.
Mr. Chidambaram had also spoken to Mr. Jaitley, but he refused to return.
Journalists were not allowed to enter the airport and Ms. Swaraj was the only source of information, tweeting regularly on the developments.
Keeping her followers informed of the developments, she said: “We only want to hoist our national flag. They are not allowing the plane to leave without us. We have refused. They have served us an order under Section 144. We are sitting at the tarmac. We are determined to go and hoist the national flag at the Lal Chowk. The government has the power to arrest us but they can't deport us.”
The last post she made on Twitter was, “the DGP and other senior officials have arrived.”
Speaking from inside the airport, Mr. Ananth Kumar said, “It is a draconian situation here. They have almost formed an Emergency-like situation. We will not accept this order as we are free citizens of India and entitled to land in Jammu.”