Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir’s State flag was on Sunday removed from Srinagar’s civil secretariat and other buildings, three weeks after Parliament abrogated J&K’s special status under Article 370, along with bifurcating the state.
Suthrashahi residents said the flag which stood alongside the national flag atop the civil secretariat building was ‘missing’ when they woke up on Sunday. “It is another sad day for Kashmir. This flag was a symbol of our distinctive identity. It too has been snatched,” said Shamusuddin. The flag had a deep red field representing labour, charged with a plough. It also had three white stripes on the hoist side representing Jammu, the Valley and Ladakh.
It was adopted by National Conference, J&K’s oldest political party, on July 11, 1939. It was made J&K’s official flag on June 7, 1952 by the state’s constituent assembly. As per the Delhi Agreement of 1952, the tricolour had the same status in J&K as in the rest of India.
The state Constitution made it mandatory to hoist the flag alongside the Tiranga. However, in March 2015, newly-appointed BJP ministers in the PDP-led coalition government refused to put the state flag on their official cars.
Chief minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed then issued a circular making it compulsory to hoist both the flags, stating, “The state flag has the same sanctity and position as the Union flag has under the Indian Constitution and other statutory provisions.” The State’s General Administration Department, however, withdrew the circular within 20 hours.
On December 26 that year, the J&K High Court ordered the government to hoist the state flag along with national flag. However, the BJP contested this decision and on January 1, 2016, a larger bench stayed the order. Justice Hasnain Masoodi, who gave the order, is now NC’s MP from Anantnag constituency. His judgment was challenged by a former police officer and BJP member Farooq Khan, who is now an advisor to Governor Satya Pal Malik.
Justice Masoodi’s judgment said: “It connects past with present and future. Flag while reminding us of struggle made by the people and their sacrifices also makes us aware of our aspirations.”
However, the then deputy CM Nirmal Singh of the BJP publicly questioned the use of the state flag saying no flag could be hoisted at an equal level to the national flag....