The flag of Jammu and Kashmir was removed from the Civil Secretariat in Srinagar on Sunday following the orders of the Centre, three weeks after the government ended special status of Jammu and Kashmir, reports NDTV.
Till now, both the Indian flag and the state flag used to fly atop the Civil Secretariat building, the seat of the government. But this morning, only the Indian flag was hoisted, officials said.
It was expected that the flag would be removed on October 31, when the law bifurcating Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories — Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh — comes into effect.
Under the special status granted by the Article 370 in the Constitution, Jammu and Kashmir was allowed a separate flag — three white stripes on a red base and a white plough — which was adopted by the state’s constituent assembly in 1952. The three stripes represented the state’s three regions — Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh.
Sources said the Centre has instructed the Central Reserve Police Force to phase out the state flag of Jammu and Kashmir from all the government buildings and replace them with the national flag.
Jammu and Kashmir has been under strict restrictions since the government announced its decision on Article 370 on August 5.
To avoid any backlash, phone and internet connectivity were snapped, more than 50,000 additional troops were stationed and prohibitory orders banning large gatherings were issued.
Meanwhile, Indian opposition leaders including former Congress president Rahul Gandhi were barred from leaving the airport on Saturday in Kashmir, where local authorities had warned that their visit could stoke heightened tension in the region, reports Reuters.
The Jammu and Kashmir government said late on Friday political leaders had been asked not to visit Srinagar as the administration works to restore order after weeks of protests against Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s decision to withdraw autonomy for the state.
Rejecting the warning, the delegation of opposition leaders from parties including Congress, the Communist Party and the All India Trinamool Congress said they wanted to assess the situation in the valley, and flew from New Delhi on Saturday.
‘If the situation is normal then why is the government restricting us from entering the valley. On the one hand the government says that things are normal and on the other they impose entry restrictions, why so many contradictions?’ senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad told reporters before departing.
When their plane arrived in Srinagar, the politicians were not allowed to leave the airport and were sent back within a few hours.
Tension remains high in Kashmir, with security forces using tear gas against stone-throwing protesters in Srinagar on Friday, after a third straight week of protests in the restive Soura district despite the imposition of tight restrictions.
It was the second time that senior opposition figures were denied entry to the state since the prime minister’s August 5 announcement. Communist party leaders were stopped at the Srinagar airport during their first visit.
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