The petition filed before the High Court seeking directions to constitutional authorities on use of State flag and celebrations of Republic Day of the State of Jammu and Kashmir has evoked mixed reactions from different political parties in the state.
While the Congress and its coalition partner National Conference rejected the idea of celebrating Jammu and Kashmir’s Republic Day, the Opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said it will watch the proceedings with keen interest.
“The petition is interesting and it has added a new dimension to the discussions on Kashmir,” said Naeem Akhter, PDP MLC and chief spokesperson told KNS. “The debate is rooted in the urge for the identity within the union and it represents the public sentiment.”
On the other Dr Mehbooba Beigh, the National Conference MP said celebration of Jammu and Kashmir Republic Day will lead to confrontation with the Union of India.
Talking to KNS, Dr Beigh said if the state flag is separately hoisted and if the state celebrates its own republic day, it would lead to ‘secession. “The fact of the matter is that the confrontation must be avoided.”
However, he hastened to add that people of Kashmir have always been conscious of their identity and the history bears witness to the fact that the people here have prioritized the secular principles. “Our state is unique wherein in we have constitution within the constitution and we have to preserve the unique identity of the state.”
Congress MLC, and senior vice president Advocate Ghulam Nabi Monga observed that the petition has been filed with a motive to create confusion among the people. “We have acceded with the Union of India and we are a part and parcel of that Union. How can we celebrate a separate Republic Day? It is just to create confusion among people,” advocate Monga told KNS.
Pertinently, On December 10, Abdul Qayoom Khan former chief conservator of forests Kashmir filed a petition before the High Court seeking directions to constitutional authorities to use the state Flag in all their official cars, offices and office buildings besides seeking directions to constitutional authorities to celebrate Republic Day of the State of Jammu and Kashmir when it adopted the Constitution of the State with dignity and honor demonstrating the sanctity of the State flag.
In his petition filed through noted lawyer Zaffar Shah, the former senior forest officer has said that having regard to the provisions of the Jammu and Kashmir Prevention of Insult to State Honours Act, 1979, non-use of the State flag by the constitutional authorities amounts to contempt of the Flag of the State.
“…Contrary to the Constitution under which Constitutional Authorities have been created and function these authorities only use Indian National Flag and no other Flag. This has the effect of showing contempt to the Constitution of the State,” reads the petition a copy of which is in possession of KNS.
The petitioner has further submitted that such a situation has to be prevented. “So long as a constitutional authority is created by the constitution of the State is under an obligation to use the State flag, the constitutional authority has no choice, but to use the State flag in order to demonstrate sanctity of the Flag and Republic character of Nation (State of Jammu and Kashmir).”
Referring to the Supreme Court observation with regard to National Flag used by the Union of India and similar views equally hold true for the flag of the State. “What Indian Flag means to the people of India, the State Flag means the same thing to the people of the State.”
The petitioner has further submitted that the High Court need to intervene in the matter and ensure that the State flag is used by all constitutional authorities in their official dealings, official cars, official buildings.
It his petition, Khan has further prayed that the way Union of India celebrates its Date of Republic when the National Flag is hoisted in the similar way the people of the State also need to celebrate Republic day as per the Constitution and on the said day all the constitutional authorities are required to hoist State flag with full dignity and honour.