Kashmir’s Civil Secretariat lowers separate flag after 67 years

The Hindu

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 The flag, which was hoisted along with the tricolour every day atop the Civil Secretariat, was supposed to be removed on October 31 when the bifurcation law comes into effect

The J&K administration stopped hoisting of the region’s separate flag, the white plough on red background, in summer capital Srinagar’s Civil Secretariat on Sunday, evoking emotional reactions from the onlookers, local parties and local officers.The Tricolour and the J&K flag would otherwise be flying next to each other at the top of the seven-storey secretariat in Srinagar. Sources said both the flags were lowered around sunset on Saturday but only the tri-colour was unfurled on Sunday morning by the staff.However, there was no official confirmation on the move. Earlier, there was speculation that the local flag might be lowered only after October 31 when J&K’s reorganisation process will see J&K carved into two Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh. It was after 20 days of the Centre’s move to abrogate sections of Article 370 that the flag was finally lowered, bringing an end to the symbolic separate identity adopted by J&K’s first Constituent Assembly in 1953.

A security guard at the Civil Secretariat said the missing flag became a spectacle for the onlookers on Sunday. “People driving on two-wheelers stopped and made a video of the missing flag, and left quietly,” he said.

A vendor selling the local harvest of pears near Jehangeer Chowk described the missing flag “an open provocation.”

Minority Affairs Ministry team in Kashmir on August 27-28: Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi

“Hundreds of locals since 1947 offered sacrifices, in lives and material, to see the flag high and flying. Betrayal after betrayal saw the last remnant of J&K’s special status down, never to rise again. It is heart-wrenching,” said the vendor.

A Kashmir Administration Services (KAS) officer, pleading anonymity, said he broke down to see the visuals of the missing flag on television. “It was our pride at one time,” the officer said.

A senior National Conference (NC) leader, who is on the run since the August 5 clampdown against the party, told The Hindu, “It’s a sad day.”

“It’s daylight robbery of our identity. The flag was part of the constitutional guarantee the Government of India offered J&K. It was not antitheses of the tri-colour but a negotiated agreement to see both the flags flying high,” said the NC leader.


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