BJP top leaders ill-treated at Airport, shifted to Madhopur24 January 2011
The Daily Excelsior
JAMMU: A day ahead of BJYM's 'Ekta Yatra' was scheduled to enter Lakhanpur, the gateway of Jammu and Kashmir, three senior BJP leaders including Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley and former Union Minister Ananth Kumar were ill-treated by the State Government and the administration and confined to tarmac of Jammu Airport for more than two hours before being allowed inside the building when they were trying to enter Jammu to join BJP's rally at Parade Ground tomorrow and take command of Lal Chowk bound Tiranga Yatra, which will enter J&K from Lakhanpur tomorrow. All three former Union Ministers, two of whom-Jaitley and Swaraj still hold Cabinet Minister rank in their capacity as Leaders of Opposition-were confined to the Airport for about six hours and were not allowed to enter the City on the ground that prohibitory orders were in force in the City. Finally at 8.45 pm, in a sheer act of nervousness and ill advised move of the Government and administration, all three senior BJP leaders were forcibly driven to Madhopur, where the BJYM will hold a rally tomorrow. In what the people described as a 'grim reminder of emergency', even the chartered plane of the BJP leaders was grounded and not allowed to fly back as the administration, which acted in utter disgraceful manner, wanted the BJP leaders to return to New Delhi in the same plane instead of entering the Jammu City. The maltreatment meted out to the senior BJP leaders immediately echoed in New Delhi with senior BJP leader L K Advani lodging a very strong protest with Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and former BJP national president Rajnath Singh ringing up President Pratibha Patil and sitting on a dharna at Rajghat late in the night. The BJP announced a nationwide agitation programme from tomorrow to protest ill treatment to the party leaders. Union Home Minister P Chidambaram spoke to Mr Jaitley and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on telephone from New Delhi after which the BJP leaders were allowed to move into the Airport building from the tarmac where they were confined for a couple of hours as the authorities locked the terminal building. After a high drama since 2.55 pm when the chartered plane carrying the BJP leaders landed at the Airport, the trio were packed off in three vehicles at the Airport at 8.45 pm and driven to Madhopur in Punjab, bordering Lakhanpur. They were taken through Technical Airport route. As the BJP leaders were about to enter Madhopur at 11.15 pm, BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu along with a large number of BJP leaders and workers from Punjab tried to force their entry into Lakhanpur from Ravi bridge to receive the BJP leaders. However, they were chased away by the police and CRPF personnel. Jaitley, Swaraj and Ananth Kumar were left at Mukherjee Park at Madhopur by the Jammu Police at 11.15 pm tonight. The BJP leaders were chalking out their strategy at the park for tomorrow till late tonight. Mrs Swaraj, however, vowed to enter Jammu and Kashmir again. In her latest among the series of tweets from Jammu Airport to Madhopur, she wrote at 11.20 pm tonight 'Vande Mataram. We will enter J&K again. We have been dumped at a place called Madhopur on Jammu and Kashmir-Punjab border three minutes ago. We didn't come for a satyagraha. We have come for Tiranga Yatra. We won't give up. Come what may'. Jaitley said at Madhopur 'we were kidnapped at the Airport and evicted. This is ridiculous. We haven't seen this before'. All three BJP leaders challenged the officers, who removed them from Jammu in an undemocratic manner clandestinely, that they will again come tomorrow to hoist tricolor at Lal Chowk along with a large number of workers and would see who stops them. Jaitley described the situation in Jammu and Kashmir as worst than 1953. He also charged New Delhi with succumbing to the separatists. 'Today you can physically pick up people and throw them out of the State,' he said describing J&K's action as 'undemocratic and unprecedented.' 'I don't know whether there is any rule of law left in Jammu and Kashmir. There is absolutely no law,' Jaitley said, adding they were determined to go ahead with the yatra. Enroute from Jammu Airport to Lakhanpur, police first made tight security arrangements before driving the three BJP leaders away from Jammu Airport to Madhopur from where BJYM president Anurag Thakur led 'Ekta Yatra' would enter Lakhanpur tomorrow morning. The Government was determined not to allow the yatra to enter the State 'at any cost' for which it has placed over 4000 police, CRPF and Haryana Police personnel at Lakhanpur, bordering Madhopur area of Punjab, in full battle dress with riot control, tear smoke, water canon vehicles etc. Traffic has been suspended on Jammu-Lakhanpur Highway and other major roads leading to Jammu from Rajouri, Poonch and other areas to stop BJP workers from reaching the city here. Mrs Swaraj wrote at the Twitter at 9.30 tonight that they were arrested by police but were not told where they were being taken. However, official sources said, they were taken to Madhopur and driven out of the State against the wishes of the BJP leaders, who wanted to stay in Jammu to lead party's 'Ekta Yatra' tomorrow. However, police denied that the BJP leaders were arrested. They were driven out of the State in anticipation of 'breach of peace'. No case has been registered against them. The BJP leaders had out rightly refused to return to New Delhi in the same plane and wanted them to be arrested. In State wide raids, more than 1500 BJP workers were detained at different places. Over 500 BJP workers from Ahmedabad, Gujarat were taken into preventive custody at Vijaypur from Senath Express and lodged at Jake community hall and Chichi Mata temple complex. Though the BJP leaders were not allowed to speak to media and were kept confined in the Airport lounge, Sushma Swaraj continued to write horrifying experience of the confinement from inside which exposed the blatant misuse of the administrative machinery against the Leaders of Opposition in both Houses of Parliament. 'You don't arrest us. You don't allow us to leave the Airport. This is not the law that I Read. Arun (Jaitley) and I are both lawyers. I practiced before Supreme Court right from 1973 onwards. You can't do this under Section 144', she tweeted. Drama began at Jammu Airport when a chartered plane in which Jaitley, Swaraj and Ananth Kumar were on board, was prevented from landing. However, since the plane had permission from Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), it landed at the Airport. Sources said the District Magistrate and police officials initially tried to prevent the BJP leaders from deplaning and asked them to return as Section 144 has been imposed in the City. In the meantime, the administration locked the terminal building and confined the BJP leaders at tarmac. Sources said Mr Jaitley wanted to know from the administration whether they have a legal order to prevent their entry or it was an administrative order. Unable to argue with Jaitley and Swaraj, the administration insisted on them to return from the same plane they had come. They didn't allow the plane to return on the ground that the BJP leaders would also go back in it. Jaitley asserted that they were ready to accept the legal order but would violate the administrative order even if they were arrested. The arguments continued but the BJP leaders said they were determined to enter Jammu City to join BJP rally at Parade Ground and lead the 'Ekta Rally'. However, the administration refused to allow them in. It was only after Home Minister P Chidambaram spoke to Jaitley and Omar on telephone from New Delhi that the BJP leaders were allowed entry into the Airport lounge from the tarmac. However, the plane remained grounded as the administration kept on hoping that the BJP leaders would agree to return but they didn't. By the time, the arguments went on it became dark and the plane was grounded at Jammu Airport for the night. The BJP leaders had to hire the chartered plane as they were denied air tickets for traveling from New Delhi to Jammu on the instructions of the Central Government. As a word spread about the detention of BJP leaders at Jammu Airport and ill treatment to them at the hands of the State Government and the administration, a large number of BJP leaders and workers gathered outside the Airport and indulged in massive sloganeering. Later, they were taken into custody by the police for violating prohibitory orders. Those arrested included BJP Legislature Party leader Chaman Lal Gupta and City East MLA Ashok Khajuria. 'It is a draconian situation. It is worst than Emergency. It doesn't seem that we are citizens of a free India. The State Government and the administration were not even allowing the Leaders of Opposition in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha to enter Jammu City. Is Jammu and Kashmir a personal property of anyone? Whether the Government has decided to work on the dictates of separatists'? a large number of BJP workers said as they strongly condemned the treatment given to the senior BJP leaders. They added that the Government has working in a most irresponsible manner by not allowing the hoisting of tricolor at Lal Chowk and detaining BJP leaders at the Airport and behaving them in a most inhuman gesture. The BJP leaders, who landed at the Airport at 2.55 pm, were taken out of the Airport at 8.45 pm. During the period, Chief Secretary SS Kapur, Home Secretary B R Sharma, DGP Kuldeep Khoda and Additional DGP CID K Rajendera continued to move in and out of the Airport holding discussions with the BJP leaders as well as the State Government. Reliable sources said that Jaitley's son, Rohan Jaitley, who had come to visit his maternal uncle's house at Trikuta Nagar, was also trapped in the melee. Authorities have clamped prohibitory orders under Section 144 CrPC right from Lakhanpur to Jawahar tunnel to thwart the BJP's Yatra and arrest BJP and BJYM workers, who try to march towards Srinagar. In a last ditch effort to seek the help of Punjab to prevent the rallyists from entering Lakhanpur, Jammu Police OSD at Lakhanpur, DIG Gareeb Dass, SSP Kathua J L Sharma, DC Kathua Zahida Khan and Principal PTS Kathua Ashok Sharma met Punjab Additional DG Law and Order Rajan Gupta, IGP Inder Pal Singh Sahota, DIG Gurdaspur range Ram Singh and SSP Gurdaspur Virender Pal Singh. Authorities sought their help but, like yesterday, Punjab Police refused to stop the rally at Madhopur on the ground that it was not their job. Authorities have already suspended traffic on Lakhanpur-Kathua route and other roads leading to Kathua from Punjab and Himachal Pradesh to prevent entry of BJP and BJYM workers from Lakhanpur tomorrow. A showdown appeared imminent as the BJP vowed to go ahead with the yatra. Traffic from several other districts has also been suspended. As BJP made it clear that it is in no mood to back off from its decision to hoist the tricolour at Lal Chowk on Wednesday, Home Minister P Chidambaram spoke to Jaitley and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah in an attempt to defuse the situation. Chidambaram said he had asked for the BJP leaders to be given access to the airport lounge. He asked Jaitley to respect the wishes of the Chief Minister and return to Delhi. Omar told the Home Minister that the leaders would not be allowed to the attend the public rally in Jammu. As requested by Chidambaram, Omar agreed to send state Chief Secretary S S Kapoor and DGP Kuldip Khoda to talk to Jaitley and Swaraj and persuade them to abandon their plan. In a series of tweets from Jammu, Swaraj said, 'we have landed in Jammu. It appears they have locked the airport terminal gates. Not being allowed to go out.' In her next posts, she said 'they have served us an Order under Section144 CrPC. They want us to fly back. Initially, they were not allowing us to deplane. Now, we have come out. We are sitting at the tarmac'. 'We are being deported because we want to fly the national flag. We have been taken to the Terminal. Those accompanying us held at the tarmac. DM came', the BJP leader said. Police arrested two BJP MLAs including the leader of its Legislative Party, Chaman Lal Gupta and over two dozen BJYM activists including Party vice president, Sanjay Baru, Ajay Sharma and Vikas Puri in front of Air port gate at Chatta when they were protesting against the denial of permission to Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitely, party national general secretary and former Union Minister, Anant Kumar to enter into the Jammu City and detained them at Airport. Criticizing the administration action and terming it an undeclared emergency, Prof Gupta squatted on the road in front of the main gate of the Airport along with Ashok Khajuria and BJYM activists and protested against the Government action. He also took the police to task for arresting the BJYM activists who were protesting on the road demanding that the national BJP leaders who were detained at airport in an undemocratic and disgraceful way be immediately allowed to enter the city. Led by BJYM state chief, Munish Sharma the protestors with Tricolors and Party flags in their hands were shouting slogans against the coalition, administration and J&K Police. The traffic on busy airport road remained disturbed for a long time forcing the police to arrest the Party activists. There was also a minor clash between police and protestors as the later criticized the action and wanted to know under what law the police was arresting the Party men. A lady BJYM activist also asked a police officer to show the order regarding the implementation of Section 144 Crpc. The arrested BJP MLAs and BJYM leaders were taken to District Police Lines Gandhi Nagar. Earlier talking to reporters Prof Chaman Lal Gupta strongly deplored the J&K Government's action to detain the national BJP leaders including Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and Anant Kumar as a shameful act. This is totally undemocratic the way the opposition leaders were treated by the State Government at Airport. This way the Government was giving signal that the J&K was the separate part, he added. This is the highhandedness and authoritarianism of the Gandhi and Sheikh families the dynastic rulers at the Centre and in the state, said Ashok Khajuria who also accused the administration of working as stooge of NC and Congress. Terming it totally undeclared emergency by Government, BJP chief spokesperson and Party's National Executive Member, Dr Jitendra Singh said this is shameful that the senior national leaders were not allowed to enter the state for flag hoisting ceremony. It is totally disgraceful that senior leaders of the party were made hostage by the State Government and it has to pay for the same, he added. Dr Singh said the issue has not remained confined to Party only but it is concerning the entire nation. He wanted to know what kind of law and order the state is practicing? BJYM national vice president Poonam Mahajan who is the daughter of former Union Minister, Pramodh Mahajan while terming the State Government action totally undemocratic said it will have serious repercussions. Stopping the nationalists from hoisting the Tri color at Lal Chowk indicates that the Government was supporting separatists which is a grave crime, she said, adding the Party will take a strong action if leaders were not allowed to enter the state. Criticizing the Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah she said if he is a nationalist he should support BJYM's yatra. She also alleged that UPA was stopping the trains carrying BJYM activists to J&K under a conspiracy. BJP has decided to hold a massive rally at Parade tomorrow morning in connection with its scheduled programme. The BJP national secretary Vahni Tripathi and BJYM national general secretary and incharge Yatra Navin Nitin were among other national leaders of the organization who participated in the demonstration. Meanwhile the police detained 500 BJYM activists who were coming from Ahmedabad Gujarat via Somnath Express at Vijaypur this evening. They were kept at Jakh Community Hall and Chichi Mata Temple. Police has arrested scores of BJYM activists at Satwari late this evening. The Police also arrested over 100 BJP activists at Rajouri and hundreds of activists at several other places who tried to leave for Jammu to take part in Rashtriya Ekta Yatra tomorrow to hoist the National Flag at Lal Chowk Sringagar. The senior BJP leaders including Kuldeep Raj Gupta and party secretary Vivod Gupta were among others who were arrested. They were taken to Rajouri Police Lines and later freed in the evening. Vibodh Gupta also alleged that Police arrested a Party leader Naim Ganai along with 20 activists from Thana Mandi, at Shopian while they were on their way to Kashmir Via Mughal road to participate in the flag hoisting ceremony at Lal Chowk on Republic Day. According to party sources some BJP and BJYM leaders led by three MLAs from Jammu and one national vice president of BJYM left for New Delhi this afternoon where from they will leave for Srinagar tomorrow morning to participate in Party's Flag hoisting ceremony at Lal Chowk on January 26. Reports reaching from Kathua said that thousands of BJP and BJYM activists have reached near Madhavpur Punjab were the rally is being organized tomorrow before the entry of Yatra into the J&K State. A large number of vehicles are lying on the National Highway at Madhavpur carrying yatris, reports added. The authorities however have sealed all the entry points from Punjab and Himachal to J&K and high deployment of the security forces and police has been made at Lakhanpur which has also been converted into a makeshift Police Headquarter, the reports said. Total 17 magistrates have been deployed in Kathua and other towns while the services of eight other magistrates have been kept stand by. The senior police officers including DIG and SSP Kathua and Samba are camping at Lakhanpur. All the vehicles entering the J&K are totally being frisked at Lakhanpur. But the morale of the BJP and BJYM activists in Kashmir Valley is still high who despite the imposition of all restrictions by the Government in Party's mission to unfurl the National Flag at Lal Chowk are determined to take the Party programme to its logical conclusion. BJP secretary, Kashmir Altaf Thakur said hundreds of activists of BJP and BJYM from different parts of the Valley will reach Lal Chowk and participate in flag hoisting ceremony on January 26 there. He said that three party activists were arrested in Badgam today. They included district president, Manzoor Ahmed Bhat, Yuwa Morcha president Mohammed Shafi and district general secretary, BJYM Nissar Ahmed. Meanwhile National Panthers Party (NPP), supreme Bhim Singh ahs also strongly criticized the Government for detaining Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitely, Anant Kumar. Prof Singh expressed shock over the high drama being played by Omar Abdullah Government at the airport to project BJP flag hoisting slogan. Agencies add from New Delhi- Unhappy over the treatment meted out to party colleagues Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley at Jammu airport, senior BJP leader L K Advani today talked to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to lodge a protest over the developments which had 'never happened' earlier. 'I talked to the Prime Minister to register protest over the way authorities prevented Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, both Leaders of Opposition in two Houses of Parliament, from entering Jammu and threatened to deport them back to Delhi,' Advani told. While expressing anguish, the Chairman of BJP Parliamentary Party told Singh that such developments had 'never happened earlier'. Asked whether Singh had given any assurance to him, Advani said, 'I did not call to seek any assurance but just to register my protest at the treatment meted out to our two senior leaders.' With its senior leaders denied entry into Kashmir Valley for the flag hoisting programme in Srinagar on the Republic day, BJP has sought President Pratibha Patil's intervention in the matter. 'We have urged the President to intervene in the matter as two of our senior leaders are being stopped at Jammu,' senior leader Rajnath Singh said after his phone call to the President. 'I requested her (Patil) to tell the Centre to permit the youth wing to hoist the tricolour', he added. BJP moved the President after its senior leaders Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj were stopped at the Jammu airport. They were sent by the BJP high command earlier in the day to 'take command' of the BJP youth wing's flag hoisting yatra at Lal Chowk in Srinagar. Upping its ante, BJP tonight announced a series of agitations to protest the 'treatment meted' out to its two senior leaders Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley at Jammu airport, including hunger strike by former party President Rajnath Singh. Hours after Swaraj and Jaitley were detained at the Jammu airport and prevented from entering the city to join the Ekta Yatra, Rajnath Singh sat on hunger strike which will be continued till the morning of January 26. The party will also hold nationwide protests at district level tomorrow to protest the 'violation of democratic rights' of the senior leaders, BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters. On the Republic Day on Wednesday, BJP workers will take to the streets holding tricolors as a mark of protest against the government's behaviour, Prasad said. Asked whether the events could be compared to the days of Emergency, the BJP spokesman said, 'even during those days, protests were allowed and leaders of the level of Jaitley and Swaraj were not detained in such a manner.' Meanwhile, party leaders Rajnath Singh and Vijendra Gupta went on a hunger strike at Rajghat here, with thousand of party workers reaching the venue to express solidarity with them. 'We are here to support our senior leaders in their agitation,' BJP's Delhi unit general secretary Ashish Sood said as the workers raised anti-government slogans and demanded permission to hoist the National Flag at Lal Chowk. They said their agitation would be peaceful. The 1800 odd BJP workers from Karnataka were literally caught napping when Maharashtra police sent their Delhi-bound train back home, foiling their plan to attend the controversial Republic Day flag-hoisting at Srinagar's Lal Chowk. Throwing their plans off the track, the Maharashtra administration on early Monday morning turned back the Delhi- bound special train from Bengaluru when most of the party workers were asleep. In a well-planned move, three additional coaches with around 200 Maharashtra policemen were attached to the train reserved for BJP workers when it arrived at Daund station near Ahmednagar around 1.30 am. The train was then taken to Sarola-Kasar station where an announcement was made by the Railways that it was being taken back to Bengaluru. Some of the occupants got suspicious when the announcement was repeated at Solapur station leading to heated arguments with police, but by then it was too late. 'It is true that we sent the train back as directed by the state Home Department and Railway officials,' Ahmednagar Superintendent of Police Krishna Prakash told. 'No untoward incident was reported and we safely sent them back to Bengaluru. We were just carrying out the orders,' Prakash, who supervised the operation said. A protest was organised today by the local BJP unit at Ahmednagar Collectorate where they shouted slogans against the Congress-led governments in the state and the centre. The protestors alleged there was a nexus between radical Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir and the Congress. In Delhi, BJP spokesperson Ravishankar Prasad said 'this is a repressive action by the government of India. we condemn it. We will go ahead with the yatra'. Targeting the Centre, he said 'this decision could not have been that of the J&K Chief Minister alone. It has to be at the behest of the Centre'. The BJP leaders were dispatched by the party a day after several workers of BJP's youth wing (BJYM) were prevented from entering Jammu and Kashmir. 23 BJP activists have been arrested and administration and police were harassing the pilgrims who were going to Mata Vaishno Devi shrine at a railway station after labelling them as BJP workers, Singh said. The opposition party has accused the Prime Minister and the Omar Abdullah government of buckling under pressure from separatists and showing 'disproportionate and panic reaction'. The Prime Minister had asked parties to desist from scoring political points or promoting divisive agendas and exercise maximum restraint to ensure that peace is not disturbed in a 'sensitive' state like J and K, a remark criticised by the BJP. Asked about appeal by JD(U) to drop its plan to hoist the national flag in Lal Chowk, Prasad said 'we fight together on all issues but we are two different parties and this is a BJP programme'. On media reports that some stone pelters had joined BJP ranks in the Valley, Prasad shot back saying that this was misinfromation. 'You are misinformed. It is the J&K police which is claimng that two stone pelters have joined ranks with BJP', he said. BJP President Nitin Gadkari, who is on a five-day visit to China, today condemned the Centre's attempt to stop his party's Ekta Yatra as 'repressive' and warned that such an approach would lead to increase in terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir. 'Under the UPA regime, secessionists are enjoying royal treatment while nationalist and integrationists are being assailed simply because they have plans to unfurl the national flag at the Lal Chowk in Srinagar,' he said. Gadkari, who is visiting Guangzhou today, also spoke by phone to Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) chief Anurag Thakur who is leading the Yatra, and enquired about the obstacles being raised by the Centre and state government in the onward march to Jammu and Kashmir. 'Now that the government has sent out a horrifyingly wrong signal to the secessionists by refusing the yatra to move ahead, BJP is afraid that this will further boost the anti-nationalist's morale,' said Gadkari. Gadkari warned that the 'repressive' step to stop his party's Yatra would lead to increase in terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir. 'The government has always played to the gallery on this issue and if this trend continues; terrorism may raise its ugly head once again,' he said. Gadkari had flagged off the Yatra from Kolkata on January 12, which is now about to enter Jammu on way to Srinagar. The government has stepped up security with the BJP not showing any sign of going back on its plan to hoist the national flag at Lal Chowk on Wednesday. Nearly 5,000 security personnel have been deployed at the border of Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab, which has been sealed, to prevent activists of the party's youth wing from entering the state. Gadkari said the secessionist elements in the Valley will be the happiest lot on January 26, while those who want to hoist flag in their own motherland will be put behind the bars. The BJP chief said his party had always taken a non-confrontationist approach on the issue of integration of Jammu and Kashmir. 'BJP will not compromise at all and this Tiranga yatra was aimed at just that,' Gadkari underlined. Gadkari, who visited Shanghai yesterday, is accompanied by party leaders, Thawarchand Gehlot, Vijay Goel, Saudan Singh, Arti Mehra, Laxman Kova and political associate Vinay Sahastrabuddhe on his China trip. With BJP in a confrontational mode on issues of flag hoisting in Kashmir and recall of Karnataka Governor H R Bhardwaj, Congress President Sonia Gandhi today held deliberations with senior party leaders Pranab Mukherjee, A K Antony and Ghulam Nabi Azad here. Gandhi's political secretary Ahmed Patel was also present at the meeting at her residence. Union Minster Azad is also party's general secretary in-charge of Karnataka where Congress and BJP are engaged in a virtual showdown after Bhardwaj sanctioned the prosecution of Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa in alleged land scams. Azad is also former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir which is currently in focus over the opposition BJP's plan to hoist national flag at Lal Chowk in Srinagar. Congress and BJP are engaged in a war of words over the issue with the ruling party accusing the latter of engaging in 'political opportunism' while opposition party has accused Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Omar Abdullah government of 'surrendering' to separatists and showing 'disproportionate and panic reaction'.