Tiranga Yatra or Rashtriya Ekta Yatra: Good or Bad? Perhaps, our logic of judging things, people or events based on their goodness value led us to focus much on the Yatra itself. Almost all of us missed the crucial point or touched that point superficially during our discussions on the topic. Before I go much into the topic, let’s have a re-look on the facts once again for a better understanding.
The BJP Yuva Morcha has started a Yatra to commemorate the Yatra of BJP founding member SP Mukherjee who had protested against the laws that necessitated everyone to seek govt’s approval to enter Kashmir. He was detained and had died in Kashmir. So, basically, the BJP Yatra is primarily intended to symbolically affirm the belief ‘Kashmir belongs to India’ (what SP Mukherjee tried to show with his Yatra). It is a different matter, if such a symbolic Yatra can bridge the gap between the Kashmir and India. Expectedly, The Yatra began from Kolkata (Mukherjee’s birthplace) on January 12 and scheduled to end on the Republic Day with hoisting the national flag at the ‘controversial’ Lal Chowk in the heart of the city of Srinagar. In the route to Kashmir(see the pic on the right for the route of the Yatra), the Yatra covers 11 state and the leaders of the party hoist flag at every destination. The brouhaha on the issue started after the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah asked the BJP not to enter Kashmir and stop the Yatra as it could ‘create disturbance in the valley’.
Now, let’s go deep into the topic. While much of the discussion has centered around if the Yatra is good for the ‘fragile peace’ in the valley or does this hoisting flag makes one patriot, the J&K CM and the media actually shifted the focus from the flaws in the J&K system.
The whole issue is based on two points.
1. It is every Indian’s constitutional right to hoist the national flag.
2. It is necessary to maintain peace and harmony in a place.
While most of the debates over the issue has put the two points against each other, actually both should happen together, isn’t it? And how can that happen? By ‘Good Governance’. And that is the point almost all have missed.
Let me describe it with an analogy. In India, we have heard about clashes between Muslims and Hindus when processions of one group pass through the area of other group. Even clashes occur between groups within one religion during such processions. And what is a govt. expected to do in that case? They take security measures, talk to community leaders and do everything to maintain peace while letting the procession to move through the area. It is state’s duty to maintain law and order and every one is given scope by the state to execute his right. Doesn’t the Tiranga Yatra episode look similar? As per the law of the land, the govt. can’t deny any citizen of his right to hoist the flag. So question of stopping a group from doing that does not arise. If there is any law and order implications as the state and central govt. apprehend (law and order implications due to hoisting tricolor is no less shameful), it is state’s duty to contain it. Even the CM admits that only a handful of people(read separatists) may oppose the Yatra in the valley. Then why is the talk on the righteousness of the Yatra? To hide the flaws in the own system? Perhaps.
Probably, the govt. in the J&K believes that it is not strong enough to contain a protest by ‘few hundred of people’ and most importantly it thinks it may loose some of its support by letting Tiranga fly on Lal Chowk. The high decibel noise is being made because a political party is planning this Yatra. I believe, there wouldn’t have been any resistance from the govt.s(at state and the center) if a non-political outfit planned such program. The leaders in power see an opportunity in painting the political adversaries (who is in opposition trying to put them on the mat on several issues) as trouble makers. But in the process, they are giving scope to the real trouble makers in the valley: the separatists. When the govt. hadn’t reacted when the Pakistan Flag was hoisted at Lal Chowk last Eid, it is only political opportunism that forced the CM to react and try to stop the hoisting of Indian National Flag.
That brings us to the next question? Is BJP clean on this? Is it not trying to gain political brownie points over the episode? Indeed, they are. There should not be any doubt that there is no political angle behind BJP’s Yatra plans. But what’s wrong with that? Does it matter who is trying to hoist the flag as long as that flag is Indian national flag? I and most of the Indians wouldn’t have opposed if the Congress had planned such Yatra. The support is for the ‘Tiranga’ and not for any particular party as we take pride in our flag. But surrendering to the separatists and starting political blame game to shift the focus from own inability is not what Indians can support.