Ramping up its Independence Day celebration plans after the Centre revoked Jammu & Kashmir’s special status on August 5, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s State unit intends to distribute 50,000 Indian flags to its workers to hoist on August 15.
“People should know that it’s a jashn [celebration],” BJP J&K unit president Ravinder Raina told party workers, who had gathered at the office here on Friday as he distributed flags to them.
As Mr. Raina and the BJP made preparations for motorcycle rallies and programmes on August 15, large parts of Jammu and Kashmir remained under curfew-like conditions for the fifth day.
Apprehending tensions, the government had imposed restrictions on movement and communications on Monday.
For the BJP, however, it was time to celebrate. “This time, Independence Day is jashn-e-azaadi for the people of Jammu and Kashmir. This is the first time that we are out of the shackles of slavery,” said Mr. Raina.
With the government revoking provisions under Article 370 of the Constitution, Jammu & Kashmir’s constitution and flag have been scrapped. “We will hoist the tricolour in every panchayat and wardWe are distributing flags to all our sarpanches and workers at different levels as well as school students. We have ordered 25,000 cotton and silk flags each,” he said.
Flags were being flown in from Delhi to Jammu, Srinagar and Leh.
While interacting with a group of sarpanchs and handing over flags to them at the party office, Mr. Raina led those who had gathered through chants of Jahaan hue balidaan Mookherjee, voh Kashmir hamara hai (Where Syama Prasad Mukherjee laid down his life, that Kashmir is ours). Bharatiya Jana Sangh founder S.P. Mookherjee, who had opposed Article 370, had died a detainee of the Sheikh Abdullah government in Kashmir in 1953.
Asked whether the BJP workers would be allowed to carry out their plans on Independence Day, given the potential for law and order issues, a senior police official said that would be “decided later.”
Meanwhile, the flag of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, which has been split into two Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh, would be removed from government offices, an official said.
At one government office in Jammu, two flags — one of India and the other of J&K — were in place on Wednesday. On Thursday, however, the J&K flag had been replaced with the Tricolour.
Schools, colleges set to open, Section-144 lifted in Jammu
Schools to reopen in Jammu
Schools and colleges in Jammu will reopen on Saturday, five days after they were shut in the wake of the government’s announcement revoking Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and bifurcating the State into two Union Territories.
This was announced by Jammu Deputy Commissioner Sushma Chauhan on Friday. She said Section-144, which imposes restrictions on assembly and movement, had been lifted in Jammu.
While some shops opened on Friday and there was vehicular movement, things were not yet back to normal. Mobile internet services remained suspended and concertina wires remained at many checkpoints and crossings.