Sushma, Jaitley and Ananth Kumar arrested at Lakhanpur

The stand-off between the BJP and the Jammu and Kashmir government ended on Tuesday evening with the arrest here of the party's top leaders along with 500 workers, who tried to move towards Jammu on their way to Srinagar to hoist the tricolour at Lal Chowk on Republic Day.

As soon as the BJP workers, led by Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Ananth Kumar and Anurag Thakur, crossed the Punjab-J&K border, heavy contingents of police arrested them. Holding the tricolour, the workers shouted slogans.

The leaders were taken to Kathua, where they would be kept under detention till Wednesday evening, police sources told The Hindu. The workers were shifted to the police training school and police lines at Kathua. The police booked all leaders under Section 188 of the Ranbir Penal Code. They would be produced before a magistrate on Wednesday for release.

The police allowed the arrested leaders to talk to journalists. Both Ms. Swaraj and Mr. Jaitley lambasted the State and Central governments for stopping them from performing their “constitutional duty.”

Mr Jaitley said the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha was determined to go ahead with its flag hoisting plan. It was a “panic reaction” by the government and “psychological surrender before separatists.”

Ms. Swaraj expressed her dismay at the way the State government treated them. “What can be more unfortunate that those who burn the national flag are being provided security while those holding the national flag are being stopped?”

“It was peaceful”

“What is our crime? Why are we being arrested? We have been marching peacefully,” she said, adding that throughout its journey in 11 States the Ekta Yatra was peaceful. But “still we have been arrested to please the separatists.”

Earlier, hundreds of BJP workers marched from the Madhopur side of Punjab to enter this State. All the top leaders were atop a ‘rath' specially designed for the yatra, which began from Kolkata on January 12.