BJP yatra stopped at J&K border; Swaraj, Jaitley held

BJP leaders Ananth Kumar, Navjot Singh Sidhu, Sushma Swaraj & Arun Jaitley ahead of the party’s Rashtriya Ekta Yatra at Madhopur bridge separating Punjab and J&K on Tuesday.
Lakhanpur, J&K, January 25 (PTI): Amid high drama, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s flag yatra was stopped at the Lakhanpur border of Jammu & Kashmir with its three senior leaders being arrested even as they lashed out at the State government and the Centre for committing a “historic mistake“.
A day after being sent back from Jammu & Kashmir, senior leaders Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and Ananth Kumar tried to re-enter the State along with the Ekta Yatra being led by the party’s youth wing president Anurag Thakur but it was foiled by police which had put a barricade. “What can be more unfortunate that those who burn the National Flag are being provided security while those holding the National Flag are being stopped,” said Swaraj as she was being arrested along with Jaitley,  Kumar and Thakur on entry into Jammu & Kashmir from Punjab.
They were arrested for violating Section 144 which prohibits assembly of more than four persons at any particular place. “What is our crime? Why are we being arrested? We have been marching peacefully,” Swaraj said while addressing thousands of party supporters. Earlier, Swaraj and Jaitley addressed a public meeting at Madhopur on Punjab border and vowed to go ahead with the plans to to unfurl the national tricolour at Lal Chowk in Srinagar. “Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has said if you visit the State, the separatists will be provoked. This shows the psychological surrender (by the State government) before the separatists... it is a historic mistake,”  Jaitley, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, said.
Later, a group of activists were seen crossing the bridge on the Ravi river on the Punjab-J&K border where they were stopped by security forces. The BJYM activists continued to shout slogans demanding that they be allowed to proceed to Srinagar to hoist the tricolour at Lal Chowk.  Jaitley said when a “group of separatists” gathered in New Delhi and made anti-India speeches, the government did not take action contending that freedom of speech was their right.  “But when we took he tricolour to unfurl it at Lal Chowk, they dub it as a crime,” he said.
Give up path of confrontation: PC tells BJP
New Delhi, January 25 (PTI): As the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Ekta Yatra enters the final stage, Home Minister P. Chidambaram appealed to BJP leaders Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj to give up the “path of confrontation” and not push any “political agenda” that will affect peace in Jammu and Kashmir. The Home Minister noted that the Jammu and Kashmir government has made it clear that it would neither let any yatra to Srinagar nor would it allow any assembly at Lal Chowk.
“The BJP leaders should respect the orders passed by the state government. It would be most unfortunate if the BJP leaders defy the restrictions placed by the state government or deliberately cause a breach of peace. There is no justification whatsoever to push a political agenda that will certainly affect peace and law and order in Jammu and Kashmir,” he said in a statement. Mr. Chidambaram said the state government has also made it clear that it would not allow the BJP leaders to cross the bridge connecting Madhopur and Lakhanpur and enter Jammu and Kashmir.
Drawing the attention of the BJP leaders to the statement made by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh January 22, Mr. Chidambaram said the Republic Day is a day of celebration and is not an occasion for divisive politics. “I would request the two Leaders of the Opposition (in Parliament) and their colleagues to give up the path of confrontation, return to Delhi and join the celebrations in Delhi on Republic Day,” he said. The Home Minister said he had spoken to Mr. Jaitley and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Monday. During the conversation with Mr. Jaitley, Mr. Chidambaram had told him that he and his colleagues had made their point and that they should not defy the orders of the state government which was the best judge to decide whether there was a threat to law and order and public peace.
“I requested them to return to Delhi. The BJP leaders were also offered an opportunity to address a press conference at Jammu airport and, thereafter, leave Jammu and Kashmir. Regrettably, they turned down the offer,” he said. In the circumstances, the state government had to remove the BJP leaders and take them to Madhopur in Punjab. They were lodged for the night in a rest house in Madhopur, he said.