A day after it issued a circular instructing state officials to use the J&K flag along with the Tricolour on all government buildings and vehicles, the Mufti Sayeed government withdrew the order, apparently under pressure from alliance partner BJP.
M A Bukhari, Commissioner Secretary (General Administration Department), issued the circular Thursday which stated that as per the J&K constitution and the Delhi agreement of 1952, and keeping in view the historical background, the J&K flag had the same sanctity and position as the Union flag. “Therefore, this sanctity and position has to be maintained at all costs. Its non-hoisting along with the Union flag amounts to insult to the flag as per provisions of the J&K Prevention of Insult to State Honour Act, 1979.”
It called upon “all constitutional authorities” to “maintain the sanctity” of the J&K flag. “The flag shall always be hoisted jointly on the buildings housing constitutional institutions and shall be used on the official cars of the constitutional authorities,” the circular stated.
But on Friday, the circular was withdrawn. An official statement said: “The draft of the circular was not approved by the competent authority before issue… and as such stands withdrawn with immediate effect.” It also said that “appropriate administrative action” would be taken after an inquiry.
While the government would not acknowledge any pressure to withdraw the order, BJP’s ministers, sources said, were not using the J&K flag along with the Tricolour on their official vehicles.
State BJP chief spokesperson Sunil Sethi expressed “happiness” over the withdrawal of the circular. He said it was not required at all as the stated position of law was very clear. “Rather its issuance was bound to give rise to an unnecessary controversy,” he said.
Sethi cited clause IV of the 1952 Delhi agreement that the state will have its own flag for historical reasons. But the same clause, he said, also made it clear that the J&K flag will not be rival to the national flag and that the national flag will get the same respect as it is given throughout the country.
However, former chief minister and National Conference working president Omar Abdullah said “there was no need to issue a circular because every minister has to fly the J&K state flag along with the national flag”.
“It is the law. It is our constitution. In my government, all minister flew both the flags and we would also fly both the flags on all government institutions,’’ he said. “The reason that the Chief Minister issued a circular means that something was wrong. Now, they have withdrawn the circular. This shows that when push comes to shove, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed can’t withstand the pressure of the BJP and its politics.”