No turning back, say Jaitley, Swaraj

Madhopur (Punjab): Slamming J-K government for stopping them from entering Jammu, BJP leaders Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday rejected Centre`s appeal to turn back and vowed to go ahead with the proposed flag hoisting at Srinagar`s Lal Chowk tomorrow.

"We will head towards Jammu and then towards Kashmir Valley for hoisting national flag at Lal Chowk along with hundreds of our activists. Where-ever they stop us, we will sit there on a dharna till January 26," Swaraj told reporters.

The Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha said, "We will not leave till 6 PM tomorrow. We will sit on dharna till then.

If they want to arrest us, they can do so at any place."

Swaraj along with Jaitley and former Union Minister Ananth Kumar were sent back from Jammu and dropped on the bridge over Ravi river at Punjab`s border at Madhopur near here late last night.

Jaitley said Home Minister P Chidambaram had phoned him at Jammu airport yesterday asking him to fly back to Delhi saying they had made their point. "We are not a banana republic. The way we were detained. They cannot physically throw us like that. I informed the Home Minister regarding this to which he said that he would look into it," Jaitley said. He described as a "criminal act" the Centre`s decision to divert trains bound for Jammu.

"What the government did by diverting trains and expelling the leaders amounts to hijack," he said. Jaitley claimed that the situation in J and K was worse than it was in 1953 when people required a permit to enter the state. "But today you physically pick up people and throw them out of the state," Jaitley said. Swaraj said that they were determined to hoist the national flag at Lal Chowk in Srinagar tomorrow.

"We told the authorities last night in Jammu to either arrest or allow us to proceed further for the party rally there but they put us separately in three vehicles and dropped us at the bridge here eventhough we were told that we were being shifted to a jail in Jammu. "They are employing such gimmicks. The leaders of opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha are not being told the truth and the way they are physically taken away is something unprecedented and unheard of," she said.

Chidambaram today appealed to the BJP leaders to give up the "path of confrontation" and not push any "political agenda" that will affect peace in Jammu and Kashmir. "I would request the two Leaders of the Opposition (in Parliament) and their colleagues to give up the path of confrontation, return to Delhi and join the celebrations in Delhi on Republic Day," he said in a statement. The J-K government has sealed the border with Punjab and put barbed wire on the bridge over Ravi river connecting the two states.