1992: Modi in Kashmir

 Mr Modi and Murli Manohar Joshi hoisting Indian Flag at Srinagar’s Lal Chowk on 26 January, 1992
Since the issue has been doing rounds in ‘nationalist’ circles, Here are some of the sources on what really happened (without any value judgement from my side)-

 

Mr Narendra Modi’s narration of what happened-

                                        

What Mr Modi’s website says-

Shri Modi himself urged the people of India to strike the
death-knell of pseudo-secularism and votebank politics. An emotional
Narendra Modi watched with joy as the tricolor was finally unfurled in
Srinagar on 26th January 1992! The successful completion of this rare
national mission amidst the most challenging circumstances was a tribute
to Shri Modi’s ability to give effective replies to the anti-national
elements with unparalleled courage, vision, skill as the power of Bharat
Mata yet again demolished the folly of anti-India elements.

India Today’s report of the event in March 1992:

BJP flag-hoisting ceremony in Srinagar turns out to be a damp squib, militancy gets a boost

For the BJP. the Ekta Yatra didn’t turn out to be the second coming it
wanted. There was no saffron sunrise over Srinagar’s Lal Chowk and no
exuberant cheerleaders to shout rabble-rousing rah-rahs. BJP President
Murli Manohar Joshi’s face told the story….
Joshi drove up, on the morning
of January 26, in a police car, to be greeted by the sound of gunshots.
In
a hurry to leave the confines of the Valley, Joshi quickly got down to
the business of hoisting the tricolour he had carried with him from
Kanyakumari. And while a contingent of 67 BJP workers raised feeble
slogans of Vande Mataram, Joshi and yatra convenor Narendra Modi
struggled with the flag presented to him on December 21, its pole
snapped into two. Finally, Joshi had to make do with the state
administration’s flag.
The ceremony lasted precisely 12 minutes,
and there was not a single Kashmiri to witness Joshi’s embarrassment.
Despite the hype preceding the hoisting, Joshi had to fly into the
Valley under cover of darkness, the night before the event, swapping his
symbolic houseboat for a staid Indian Air Force an-32. Because, as a
police official put it: “Surprise is the best form of security.”
Security,
in fact, was Joshi’s main worry. He even spent the night at the BSF
mess close to the airport because it was not safe to drive through the
city. All along the 15,000-km route of the yatra, Joshi had boasted: “We
have more volunteers than the militants have bullets.”
But in
the end. the bullets won, as an audaciously-planted bomb exploded on
January 24 at the police headquarters, injuring DGP J.N. Saxena and four
other senior officers. Added to this were the rocket attacks and the
incessant firing, as well as the attempt to shoot down the Indian
Airlines IC-421 as it was landing in a curfew-bound city.

As
JKLF- commander-in-chief Javed Ahmed Mir told India Today over the telephone: “Our mujahedins are in a state of preparedness. The curfew is
a measure of our success. The entire nation’s eyes are on Srinagar, not
because of the yatra, but because of us.”
Indeed. The yatra
united the scattered militant groups as even the Centre’s worst mistakes
couldn’t. Gathering together under one umbrella and launching
‘Operation Snowstorm’, they set up ‘Maqbool Butt’ squads to tackle the
travellers.
And succeeded in sending a chill through Srinagar’s
ghostly air, which may last long after winter’s gone. For, Joshi’s
coming has swung a losing battle in the militants’ favour and further
wounded the Kashmiri psyche.
The signs were evident on the last
lap of the yatra. Having billed itself as a long distance runner, the
BJP ran out of oxygen after Jammu. Much of it was due to the attack on
yatris near Phagwara on January 23.
As an anxious Atal Behari
Vajpayee, on board the flight to Jammu, said: “The killings in Punjab
could give ideas to the Kashmir terrorists.” They did. By the time, BJP
leaders trickled into their Jammu hotel, the news of the Srinagar blast
wrecked their remaining confidence.
All through the day, L.K.
Advani, Vijayaraje Scindia, Vajpayee – among others – debated whether
politics was more important than protection. And Governor Girish Saxena
shuttled between his house-turned-office and the hotel. Ultimately,
security prevailed. It remained for Joshi to put the seal on the deal.
Soon,
the fanfare at Joshi’s Jammu reception faded into insignificance. There
were no press briefings, no off-the-record conversations and no
official announcements – from either the Centre, the state Government or
the BJP leaders – but details of the agreement started filtering
through. And Modi was blunt enough to tell journalists: “From now on,
you are on your own. If you can, reach Lai Chowk and we will see you
there.”
Convincing the BJP leaders wasn’t difficult. After
consulting bureaucrats at the Centre, Saxena told them: “We cannot
assure your security if you travel by road to Srinagar. We will do our
best, but you will have to take your chances.”
The officials
convinced the BJP top brass that even handing over the national highway
to the army could not guarantee their safe passage. Then, there were
reports that the militants had proclaimed a ban on private vehicles on
the highway from 6 a.m., January 25, to 12 noon, January 26.
The
only quibble the BJP had was on the timing of Joshi’s flight – the
pretext, they said, should be that they had to stop because of
landslides. Somebody up there must have heard. When the yatra set off
from Jammu, there were two landslides near Banihal.
But those in Jammu who showered petals and chanted Vande Mataram
and Jai Shri Ram while sending off the yatris were blissfully unaware
of this high drama. Barely 5 km from Udhampur, when the yatris had
broken off for lunch, District Magistrate B.L. Nimesh told the press
cars to go no further.
And as agitated yatris blocked the road,
they were told by Modi to head for home. Even as they looked on, angry
and confused, Joshi was whisked away, with six others, in three cars led
by Nimesh.
The next thing they knew, two iaf Chetak helicopters
were heading for Srinagar. The reaction of a Rajasthan MLA, Tara
Bhandari, was typical: “All of us feel cheated. What was the need to
bring us all here and make us look like fools?”…
Ultimately, Hindutva draped in the tricolour proved
politically expensive – for the BJP and for the country. The Yatra’s
odyssey to Srinagar was unnecessary provocation at. a time when the
earlier mood of confrontation has discernibly abated. By raising
political temperatures along with the Indian flag, the BJP has lost much
and gained little.

A local Kashmiri news outlet Greater Kashmir’s report on the event (from eyes of the locals)

On January 26, 1992, Kashmir was different. In  government quarters, it
was regarded as almost a ‘liberated zone’ with the armed militants
ruling the streets in Srinagar and villages, while in a show of defiance
the Border Security Forces (BSF) and army personnel fortifying the city
centre- Lal Chowk- turning it almost into a war zone.
The
announcement to hoist the flag came in the midst of this situation, when
the then BJP President, Murli Manohar Joshi announced it during a rally
attended by thousands of party supporters in Jammu…
“Murli
announced he would come to Kashmir by road with his 10,000 supporters to
hoist the flag,” Fayaz Ahmad Zargar, 38, a resident of Amira Kadal,
said.
BJP President had undertook “Ekta Yatra” that year from
Kaniyakumari to Srinagar to hoist the tri-colour at Lal Chowk on January
26.
On the other hand, the militants who called the shots in Kashmir
those days were furious over the BJP announcement. All the militant
outfits chalked out a joint strategy to stop BJP from raising the flag
on clock tower.
The militants intensified their attacks from Jan 24,
1992, onwards. In one of the intrepid acts, they orchestrated an attack
in PHQ Srinagar where DGP along with the other command sustained
critical injuries after a bomb, concealed in a drawer, exploded.
It
was the same incident in which Ahad Jan- the police cop who shot to fame
after hurling a shoe on chief minister Omar Abdullah on August 15,
2010- was promoted after he saved the life of DGP Saxena and rushed him
to hospital.
“Apart from attacks, the Mujahideen outfits also divided
themselves with each party getting its share of task,” a former Student
Liberation Front militant said. “The foremost thing for us that time
was to guard Srinagar- Jammu highway. The BJP leaders along with their
supporters had planned to come on their vehicles taking that route.”
In
the wake of militant threats, the authorities imposed indefinite curfew
and issued shoot at sight orders. However, the militants managed to
control the highway forcing government to go for alternative means of
transport. The BJP president was thus airlifted to Srinagar.
With the arrival of BJP president Joshi, the city was turned into a battle zone.
“I
vividly remember the day of Jan 26, 1992,” Javed Ahmad, a resident of
Lal Chowk said. “A radio announcement was aired that Lal Chowk has been
handed over to army.”
Ahmad said BSF along with army erected sandbag bunkers, temporary check-posts and enforced strict curfew.
“They
were armed to teeth,” he said. “Even security personnel were deployed
at each door. They took roof tops, buildings and each structure that
could have aided militants to mount any attack.”
The army was a new
guest in the city those days, so was the heavy weaponry they carried. As
a result, the fear- stricken residents, who lived around Lal Chowk,
fled, except one or two male members who guarded their respective
houses.
“On Jan 26, 1992, we heard only firing. There were explosions
also we could make out from all directions of the city neighborhood,”
Ahmad said. “It was like a war going on.”
Unlike Ahmad, Abdul Rashid,
a resident of Koker Bazaar was unfortunate. He sat on the window sill
of the second floor of his house to smoke and get relaxed in the scary
situation.
However, he had taken only two drags, before the prying
eyes of alert Border Security Force personnel occupying a temporary
check post, spotted him.
“They broke open the door and pulled me by
collar down on the rain soaked street,” Rashid said. “I was kept hanging
body upside down. They did it for 15 minutes in that bone chilling
cold. Then they made me stand on the road. It was a punishment since I
had breached curfew.”
Ahmad said Army and BSF had enforced a strict
curfew and nobody was allowed to venture outside home, especially in Lal
Chowk area.
On the chilly afternoon, BJP president, surrounded by alert soldiers and BSF personnel appeared in Lal Chowk.
During the same time, at least four rockets were fired towards the flag hoisting venue. But none of them reached there.
As
Murli raised the flag on the pedestal of clock tower, the rod broke
down and one half along with flag fell on his forehead. He got injured.
Till
the evening of Jan 26, 1992, scores of people got killed and some
injured. It was reported in Srinagar that 10 people, most of them
militants, were killed at different locations on the Srinagar-Jammu
highway.

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