Jammu: The trio of BJP leaders who were arrested as they crossed into Jammu yesterday have been released in Kathua. Arun Jaitley, Ananth Kumar and Sushma Swaraj then met party workers and hoisted the national flag with them. They then headed to the BJP party office in Jammu. (Read: BJP rally stopped at Jammu; Jaitley, Sushma arrested)
Earlier today, the BJP leaders rejected an invitation by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah to attend the official Republic Day celebrations in Jammu or Srinagar. (Read: BJP leaders reject Omar's peace overture)
Mr Abdullah told NDTV, "Jaitley told me he will get back to me after talking to Sushma. I told Jaitley that I appreciate the BJP yatra was concluded peacefully."
The BJP's Ekta Yatra was stopped as it entered Jammu yesterday after crossing the one-kilometre bridge that joins Madhopur in Punjab with Lakhanpur in J&K. Ms Swaraj and Mr Jaitley were on the rath or chariot that was a part of the demonstration. As a gesture of courtesy, the state government moved them to a hotel after they were taken into custody.
The BJP wanted to enter Jammu and then make its way to Srinagar to unfurl the national flag at Lal Chowk. Both the state government and the Centre had made it clear this would not be allowed on the grounds that it could disturb the delicate peace in the Kashmir Valley.
Separatists had warned that they would take on the BJP with a march of their own to Lal Chowk.
In 1948, Jawaharlal Nehru promised Kashmir a plebiscite at Lal Chowk. Separatists base their agenda on this. The BJP says that by flying the national flag here on Republic Day, it wanted to send a clear message to the separatists that Kashmir is an integral part of India.