Return home, Chidambaram tells BJP leaders on Kashmir march

Monday, January 24, 2011

NEW DELHI - Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram Monday phoned Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Arun Jaitley and asked him to return to Delhi from Jammu. Jaitley and colleagues Sushma Swaraj and Ananth Kumar were barred from leaving the airport and going ahead with plans to hoist the national flag in Srinagar.

The home minister told the BJP leader that “he had made his point and should come back now”, a home ministry official told IANS.

Chidambaram also spoke with Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on the BJP’s plan to hoist the national flag in Srinagar’s Lal Chowk area on Republic Day.

The Jammu and Kashmir government has decided not to allow BJP’s ‘Ekta Yatra’, fearing it will ignite tension in the Kashmir Valley, which is returning to peace after months of deadly street protests last summer.

Undeterred by the state government’s moves, the BJP Monday sent leaders of opposition in the Rajya and Lok Sabha — Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj — to “take command” of the programme to hoist the tricolour in Lal Chowk.

But they were barred from leaving the Jammu airport, forcing them to squat on the tarmac.

Tension gripped the Jammu airport area following the move, bringing in hundreds of BJP activists and many leaders in the state to the main gates of the heavily guarded complex. Authorities hurriedly shut its gates.

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