Negating Indian Nationalism: Congress and National Conference
by Hari Om on 26 Jan 2011 12 Comments

In one of the darkest moments in our post-1947 history, Indian nationalism was mocked and possibly even negated by the cussed intolerance of the Congress led by Italian-born Sonia Gandhi and the Islamic-separatist-centric National Conference of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. At the time of finalizing this article, there was no guarantee that the tricolour would be unfurled from Srinagar’s historic Lal Chowk, despite heroic efforts by intrepid nationalists from across the country, led by the Bharatiya Janata Party’s youth wing.


In a shocking new low in public life, the Leaders of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, along with party general secretary Ananth Kumar, were arrested for the second time on Tuesday evening by the duplicitous National Conference-Congress coalition, mentored by the Congress-led UPA at the Centre.


Previously, on Monday, the state government had unleashed a brazen reign of terror against all nationalists entering the state and had arrested (they said detained) Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and Ananth Kumar at Jammu airport. When the trio refused to return to Delhi, they were declared to be under arrest, packed in separate cars and crudely deported to the Punjab border at Madhopur. Though taken aback by this brazen and graceless muscle power, the BJP quickly rallied and called for a Jammu bandh on Tuesday to protest the detention and arrest of leaders and activists en route to Lal Chowk. The bandh was a complete success.


Yesterday, 25 Jan., party leaders and cadres and flag-bearing supporters tried to re-enter the state to take the Ekta Yatra launched by Yuwa Morcha president Anurag Thakur to its final destination, but were arrested for violating Section 144, which prohibits the assembly for more than four persons at any place.


All this is qualitatively different from the midnight arrests of Jaya Prakash Narayan and opposition leaders during the Emergency, and there is no way a state government could have dared arrest the Leaders of Opposition of both Houses of Parliament without fulsome backing of the Centre. It is a gross breach of privilege of Parliament, done without giving reason and taking consent of the Speaker and Vice Chairman of the respective Houses, and will doubtless reverberate in Parliament in the coming budget session.


Should the Tiranga be successfully unfurled tomorrow, Republic Day, BJP may forgive and move on, but regardless of how the day passes it is within its rights to demand the sacking of the Omar Abdullah Government, withdrawal of State Governor N.N. Vohra who remained mute throughout the crisis, and Home Minister P. Chidambaram for instigating the reckless Abdullah to challenge Indian nationalism head-on.


As is now typical in such situations, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and wanna-be PM Rahul Gandhi are conspicuous by their silence, and personally invisible. The nation never knows what they think in any and every crisis, what role they play in aggravating every situation. Even Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, having made the desired noises against the Tiranga Yatra, has followed the Gandhis into their favourite burrow and pulled it in after him, leaving the bombastic Home Minister to face the public, holding his foot in his mouth! Chidambaram inanely repeats that Kashmir has a unique history and unique geography and needs a unique solution – whatever that means – but is unable to explain why the flag cannot be unfurled there. Most of the union cabinet has taken refuge in silence; UPA allies believe discretion is the better part of valour; but the ingrate allies of the NDA – most notably Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar and his cohort Sharad Yadav – have distinguished themselves with knavery and skullduggery.


As for the Indian electronic media, it surpassed itself in crawling before the wishes of the Italian-born Roman Catholic soon-to-be ex-empress of India. Initially some channels did show the mammoth crowds of nationalists on the Ravi bridge, trying to enter Jammu. But as reports of a surge in nationalism poured in from across the country, frowns went out, and the channels duly blacked out the crowds and the flag. One intrepid journalist gave a gush-gush ‘exclusive’ interview with Omar Abdullah (more likely a command performance), and we were told that he was a good man doing his constitutional duty by keeping nationalist riff-raff out of the state!


The Day of the Republic, the day we gave ourselves the Constitution and salute the Tiranga as symbol of the Republic, is thus shrouded in uncertainty and sadness. Omar Abdullah says that entering the state with the national flag will provoke the Kashmir separatists. His government did nothing last year when they burnt the tricolour at Lal Chowk and unfurled the flag of Pakistan! To this day, not a single person has been arrested. Nor has Yasin Malik been arrested for threatening to unfurl the Islamic flag or Pakistani flag; he was allowed to move freely with supporters in Lal Chowk for three days, and went conveniently missing when police allegedly moved to arrest him.


Neither the NC-Congress nor their subservient media, nor the pugnacious over-ambitious wanna-be NDA PM-in-waiting Nitish Kumar, is able to realise that the Tiranga Yatra is a courageous response by youth to that chilling insult to the nation. It is only fitting that the response has come from followers of Syama Prasad Mookerji who gave his life to compel the then powers-that-be to end the hated permit system for entry into the state. That supreme sacrifice won the people of the state the benefit of the Election Commission and the Supreme Court of India; it ended the pernicious custom of calling the chief minister the ‘prime minister’ of the state.


Through all the repression however, India’s bush telegraph worked like a charm and huge crowds gathered at Madhopur bridge separating Punjab and Kashmir, where the opposition leaders reiterated their determination to go ahead with the yatra and unfurl the flag at Lal Chowk. The area also looked like a war zone, with hundreds of armed security personnel, armoured vehicles, water-cannon trucks, teargas equipment and riot-control vehicles ready to thwart any attempts to enter the state. Wire fencing augmented the blockade.


Fasting at Rajghat in Delhi, former BJP president Rajnath Singh condemned the regime’s actions and said it was the fundamental right of the party's youth wing to hoist the national flag in Srinagar on Republic Day.


Tensions have run high in the past 48 hours as thousands of BJP activists have been arrested, and Jammu-bound trains ferrying activists cancelled or diverted, and the borders sealed. Lakhanpur, gateway to the state, has been sealed and even ordinary tourists are being rounded up on suspicion of being BJP activists; the few ingenious warriors who managed to slip into Jammu and Srinagar cities are being roughed up and hauled away. Their fate will be known only later. It may be recalled that on Sunday, a trainload of BJP youth travelling to Lal Chowk from Bangalore, was illegally diverted back to Bangalore in the dead of night while the passengers were sleeping. This was obviously at the behest of the Central Government whose complicity in all that is going wrong in the nation can hardly be over-emphasised.


The whole state has been turned into a fortress under Section 144. All educational institutions have been shut, and BJP was not allowed to hold a rally even in Jammu. The Banihal tunnel is closed. Common people have been prevented from venturing out of their homes. All inter-district highways, namely, Jammu-Rajouri, Rajouri-Poonch, Jammu-Doda, Doda-Kishtwar have also been shut for two days to paralyze movement of sympathizers to Srinagar and Lal Chowk! It is a virtual Emergency – nay, even martial law rule – and reminds one of wartime restrictions on civil liberties.


Here in Kashmir, all Kashmiri leaders without exception are up in arms against the BJP. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, JKPCC chief Saif-ud-din Soz, CPI-M leader Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami, JKLF leader and murderer Yasin Malik, merchant of death and Pakistani agent Syed Ali Shah Geelani, protagonist of right to self-determination Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, to name only a few, are singing the same song: BJP is a communal outfit; BJP is anti-national; BJP is divisive; BJP is disturber of peace…


But why didn’t the Union Government and Government of Jammu & Kashmir act when the separatists, particularly Syed Ali Shah Geelani, in October 2010 challenged the very institution of the Indian State and declared Jammu & Kashmir was not part of India? He and Maoist sympathizers like Arundhati Roy and Varvara Rao maligned India and demanded independence for Kashmir under the noses of authorities in New Delhi; he was opposed only by a handful of intrepid nationalists.


Doesn’t Omar Abdullah realise that saying the hoisting of the flag at Lal Chowk will inflict more wounds on the Kashmiri people (read Muslims) is tantamount to saying that the only nationalists in India are Hindus. Has it really come to this?


Mr Chidambaram cuts a sorry figure when he asks Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj to give up confrontation and not push a ‘political agenda’. Doesn’t he know that saluting the flag, symbol of the Republic, is a political act of affirmation in the sovereignty of the nation? Surely he understands that abandoning the yatra would hand over a massive political and moral victory to the secessionists, stone-pelters, and their foreign masters, who still dream of cutting Kashmir off from India.


The nation must rise as one and bring down political leaders who have made a mockery of the nation; tempting the international community to mock at us and look at us with contempt. It was not to see this day that thousands of Indians sacrificed their lives during the freedom struggle, which began when the first inimical forces invaded the sacred territory of Bharat and confronted its civilisation centuries ago. Uncounted millions of intrepid sons and daughters have sacrificed precious lives in the fight for our civilisational values and freedoms, our place of honour in the comity of nations. To mark time would be to negate the supreme sacrifices our ancestors made for Mother India and empower anti-India forces to dismember the nation.


The author is former Chair Professor, Maharaja Gulab Singh Chair, University of Jammu, Jammu, & former member Indian Council of Historical Research 

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