On 25th July, the Bhartiya Janta Party Union Territory Chief Ravinder Raina unfurled the tricolour at Ghanta Ghar Lal Chowk in presence of hundreds of people. In addition to local party leadership, Raina was flanked by BJP General Secretary Tarun Chug and some others from New Delhi. This was the first ever political rally by BJP with a sizable crowd at Lal Chowk since its workers had assembled from various nooks and cranny of the UT.
BJP’s tiranga rally had a political message from Lal Chowk, the place which was the domain of separatists till 2019. Every time when the separatists would call for shutdown or a rally, the authorities in Kashmir would seal off the venue and fortify Ghanta Ghar to avoid the unfurling of the Pakistani flag by separatists.
Local mainstream parties would avoid confronting separatists and never thought to hoist tricolour at this historical clock tower fearing a separatist’s political backlash.
When BJP did it last week, it was unprecedented and a psychological victory. It traversed a message that Kashmir has a changed political narrative post Article 370 abrogation. Separatism apparently seems pushed to the wall. No resistance was on ground or either in the media against the BJP’s move. It was widely covered locally and in national media suggesting a paradigm shift in Kashmir politics.
Sandeep Mawa, a socio political activist, stepped a bit further and affixed the National Flag at All Party Hurriyat Conference central secretariat Rajbagh. Multiple rallies were held along with tri color in the past few weeks which may continue till August 15 to commemorate the 75 years of Independence as part of national campaign Azadi ka Amrit Mohatsav.
But there have been few controversies when authorities issued an order and asked concerned authorities to collect Rs 20 from each person in Schools, offices and from shopkeepers for a national flag. Later, the authorities clarified that it is a voluntary exercise and no one is compelled to do so.
“There is nothing wrong in Har Ghar Tiranga. Why should one object it if anyone wants to hoist the tricolour at his home since the constitution has given the rights,” Omar Abdullah reacted but he insisted that it shall be a voluntary exercise and no one shall be forced to do the same.
The local mainstream parties, however, found a different reason in developing controversies with the campaign. They said no force shall be exerted against people to implement the order and they will resist any such move.
“I can only hoist the flag when I want. I won’t accept any force,” reacted Adv Muzaffar Shah, Awami National Conference Vice President and spokesman of PAGD.
The authorities without making any controversies managed to percolate its idea of Har Ghar Tiranga. The visuals appearing on social media show amazingly children holding national flags. The teachers coordinating the Tiranga rallies. In areas where there is no threat of terrorists and are relatively safe have houses hoisting tricolor at the top.
The perception is changing and the patriotism is being imbibed among the young minds. Earlier, it was seen only the Army and other security agencies holding National festivals in Kashmir in tight security garrisons. A select lot of children would be called to attend the function and have a photo shoot. In other words, patriotism was reduced to the security garrisons of Kashmir. Now things have changed and constitutional festivals are publicly celebrated.
Post Article 370 abrogation, BJP is successfully moving inch by inch towards its target.