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R-Day in JK peaceful; BJP march foiled, Arrested BJP leaders released in Jammu and Kashmir
Srinagar/ Kathua, Jan 26 (IANS/PTI):
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Published on 27 Jan. 2011 1:03 AM IST
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Authorities clamped down on secessionist leaders and some Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) activists Wednesday when they separately tried to take out marches to Lal Chowk here in defiance of security restrictions on the Republic Day, which passed off peacefully.
Police rounded Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front’s (JKLF) Yasin Malik, moderate Hurriyat Conference leaders Bilal Lone and Shahidul Islam and a dozen of their supporters from Maisuma locality when they came out of a lane on their way to Lal Chowk.
Lal Chowk is the main business centre of the city, where the BJP planned to unfurl the national flag.
“Malik, Lone, Shahidul Islam and 13 of their supporters have been lodged in Kothibagh police station here,” a police officer said.
Their detentions came after about 10 BJP activists were also held by police to foil their proposed flag hoisting march at the city square.
The JKLF had announced a counter-march to Lal Chowk after the BJP’s much-hyped rally to Lal Chowk, the same place where the party’s then president Murli Manohar Joshi had unfurled the national flag in 1992 amid tight security when the armed separatist campaign was at its peak.
The government had mounted security in and around Lal Chowk to scuttle the marches.
Curfew-like restrictions were imposed in the city, partly because of militant threats who in over 20 years of insurgency have tried to disrupt Republic Day ceremonies by triggering bombs.
But the day passed peacefully as mobile phone connectivity across the valley was suspended till afternoon as a security precaution.
Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather unfurled the tricolour and took salute at the Bakshi Stadium.
Smartly turned out contingents of police, paramilitary troopers, civil defence and school children marched past in the stadium, around which authorities had thrown a three-tier security grid.
All roads leading to the venue were sealed and entry was strictly regulated through special passes.
Cultural programmes were also held at the stadium, highlighting the cultural diversity of the state.
The minister invited separatists to be part of the dialogue process initiated by the central government after months of unrest and deadly protests in which 112 civilians were killed last summer.
“Dialogue and negotiations are the only way out of the present problem, and we appeal to everyone to come forward and join the dialogue process,” the minister said.
He highlighted the achievements of the Omar Abdullah-led National Conference-Congress government, which completed two years in office early this month.
Impressive parades were also held in all the districts, with senior ministers unfurling the tricolour.
Meanwhile, senior BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and Anant Kumar were on Wednesday released from custody by the Jammu and Kashmir authorities after which they launched an attack on the state government for stopping their yatra to unfurl the national flag in Srinagar.
Besides 200 BJP activists, those released by the Jammu and Kashmir Police included Bharatiya Janta Yuva Morcha (BJYM) chief Anurag Thakur and Shanta Kumar.
After Thakur was released along with other activists and dropped at Madhopur in Punjab in police buses after the flag hoisting functions were over, Swaraj and Jaitley were released by the Deputy Inspector General of Police Gareeb Dass from Hallmark Hotel where they were under house arrest.
Soon after their release, the BJP leaders slammed the state government for detaining them and thwarting their yatra.
“Omar’s offer was a mere lip service. On one side, he stops the hoisting of tri-colour in Srinagar and gives a moral boost to separatists and on the other, he invites us for tricolour hoisting function,” Sushma Swaraj said.
“Now that the function is over, they have released us. We will suitably react at Jammu,” Swaraj said, adding they will hold a press conference at Jammu.
She said the Ekta Yatra has come to an end with hoisting of the tricolour on January 26.
Thakur, after being released along with BJYM activists, hoisted the tricolour at Police Training College (PTC) at Kathua, where they were kept after being arrested by the police in violation of prohibitory orders during Rashtriya Ekhta Yatra at Lakhanpur - the gateway to Kashmir.
Alleging that Jammu and Kashmir authorities did not treat their activists well, Thakur said they were not provided with proper beddings and were shivering during the night. “Our activists were deliberately maltreated.”
Amid high drama, BJP’s flag yatra was stopped at the Lakhampur border of Jammu and Kashmir yesterday and its three senior leaders arrested.

 
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