Tense standoff between BJP and J-K govt over flag plan

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Jammu/Pathankot, Jan 25 (PTI) The tense standoff betweenBJP and Jammu and Kashmir government over the party''s plan tohoist national flag at Srinagar tomorrow escalated with itsleadership declaring today they will go ahead ignoring UnionHome Minister P Chidambaram''s call to avoid "confrontation".

As BJP leaders Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj addresseda rally at Punjab''s border town of Madhopor, near Pathankot,where they were sent from Jammu airport last night, the nearbyLakhanpur town on J and K side linked by a bridge turned intoa security fortress to thwart the party''s plans.

"We will head towards Jammu and then towards KashmirValley for hoisting national flag at Lal Chowk along withhundreds of our activists," Swaraj told reporters inPathankot. BJP activists headed towards Lakhanpur trying tocross the bridge amid high tension in the area.

"We dare them(state government) to stop us. Whereeverthey stop us, we will sit there at dharna till January 26,"she added.

The Omar Abdullah government has made it clear that itwould neither let any yatra to Srinagar nor would it allow anyassembly at Lal Chowk.

Barricades and barbed wire walls have been put up at allthe seven entry points at Lakhanpur in J-K''s Kathua district.

The JK government has already imposed section 144 of CrPCat Lakhanpur.

The J-K government has sealed the border with Punjab,including putting barbed wire on the bridge over Ravi riverlinking Madhopor and Lakhanpur towns.

In a statement, Chidambaram appealed to Swaraj andJaitley and other BJP leaders to give up "path ofconfrontation" and not push any "political agenda" that willaffect peace in J and K.

Over 400 BJP activists were arrested when they tried tobring out a rally in Jammu as part of the flag hoisting planat Lal Chowk in culmination of the party''s ''Ekta yatra'',police said.

Raising anti-government slogans, the activists clashedwith police and smashed window panes and doors of somestructures as they were prevented from criss-crossing thecity.

Yesterday, JK Police had arrested over 1,300 BJPactivists from across the state, including 1,000 from twoJammu-bound trains at Vijaypur Railway station in Samba.

In a fresh crackdown on BJP activists, four seniorparty leaders were detained at Srinagar immediately aftertheir arrival.

Three BJP MLAs � Jugal Kishore, Gharu Ram and ShamChaudhry and a party leader from Udhampur Pawan Khajuria -were not allowed to leave the airport for taking part in theflag hoisting plan, officials said.

Officials said as soon as the BJP leaders reached thearrival hall of the Srinagar international airport thisafternoon, securitymen deployed there escorted them to the VIPlounge and not allowed to enter the city.

He said besides the city, Section 144 CrPC, whichprohibits assembly of four or more persons at any publicplace, has been imposed in Budgam district. .

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