A week back, Sareen, who was the state vice-president of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha about two-and-a-half years ago, had unfurled the Tricolour in Lal Chowk.
After the photograph on Facebook started circulating and the BJP distanced itself from Sareen saying he was not an “active” member of the party any more, the leader took his photograph off the social networking site.
BJP state president Sat Sharma denied any knowledge about Sareen. “Hundreds of people visit our party headquarters every day and even attend meetings convened by us to redress their grievances, but I can definitely say that no person with such a name has been an active member of the BJP ever since I took over as president of party’s state unit,’’ Sharma said.
“He (Sareen) does not hold any position in the present BJYM team of office-bearers,” Yuva Morcha state president Suresh Magotra said.
On December 6, Sareen along with a Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Rakesh Sharma unfurled the Tricolour at Srinagar’s Lal Chowk. This was in response to a challenge from National Conference president Farooq Abdullah asking BJP government at the Centre to first hoist the Tricolour at Srinagar’s Lal Chowk before talking about hoisting one in PoK.
Last year, Sareen was seen rubbing shoulders with senior BJP leaders, including Union ministers, while he organised a torch light rally in Srinagar.
Sources said the photograph showing him brandishing an AK rifle was recent one, when he visited Kashmir to unfurl the Tricolour and was provided a PSO for protection.
Ashish said the photograph was over a month old when he had gone to the Valley to attend a BJP event. He got himself photographed with the rifle of a PSO as many from the party were posing with the weapon, he said.
“However, I did not know at that time that this photograph will create such a halla bolo on the social networking site,’’ he said. “My younger brother posted it on Facebook without my knowledge. As soon as I came to know about it, I withdrew the photograph,” Sareen said.
“I am a nationalist and I had no evil intention behind posing with an AK rifle. However, if it has hurt anybody’s sentiments, I apologise for it and assure that I will not repeat such a mistake in the future.”