Kolkata: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Nitin Gadkari on January 12 launched the Rashtriya Ekta Yatra, or the national unity march, that will conclude January 26 with the hoisting of the national flag at Srinagar’s historic Lal Chowk, a move opposed by the Jammu and Kashmir government.
According to the BJP, the yatra’s purpose is to uphold the unity of India and bind the youth of India with Kashmir.
The yatra, on a bus converted to look like a chariot used by Hindu warriors of yore, will pass through 11 states before reaching Lal Chowk, the center of Srinagar, on Republic Day January 26.
Gadkari kicked off the yatra by handing over the tricolor to Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) president Anurag Thakur.
“This is very unfortunate that after 63 years of independence, we need to go to Kashmir for hoisting a flag. Lakhs of Kashmiri Pandits have been evicted from Kashmir. Congress is only interested in vote bank politics,” Gadkari said after launching the yatra.
“The problem of Kashmir is because of the appeasement policies of the Congress. Why is it that this government doesn’t have the courage to say no to azaadi (freedom) and they have to stay in Kashmir. Kashmir is an integral part of India and it will remain so,” Gadkari said.
This Ekta Yatra has drawn much attention after Kashmiri separatist leader Muhammad Yasin Malik challenged the BJP’s decision to hoist the national flag at Lal Chowk.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah also asked the BJP not to hoist the national flag at Lal Chowk as this would unnecessarily “provoke” the people of Kashmir.