Nazir Masoodi

Srinagar: In its Kolkata to Kashmir Ekta Yatra, the BJP’s youth wing is aiming to lead thousands of its members to raise the tricolour at Lal Chowk on Republic Day. The BJP says it’s a challenge to the separatists.

But the police say some party workers in the state are stone throwers, whose agitation took the Kashmir valley to the brink last summer. Since it is this kind of ‘anti-nationalism’ that the party claims to be trying to fight through its Ekta Yatra, the news has put the party in a spot.

At least two of the seven BJP workers arrested for trying to put up posters in Lal Chowk have been involved in stone-pelting incidents say the police.

“We have arrested some seven BJP activists yesterday. Two of them namely, one Waseem from Qamarwari and Imtiaz from Nowabazar, were found involved in stone pelting cases. Investigation is on and we will take action accordingly,” Zulfikar, Superintendent of Police East Srinagar told NDTV.

While presence of stone throwers in BJP may cause embarrassment to the party at national level, the local BJP leadership in Kashmir say they welcome stone pelters.

“They realised that stone pelting is a political drama and that they should join a nationalist party. We welcome them. Let them join and work for our party,” said Sofi Yousuf, the Vice President of BJP’s state unit, who was amongst those arrested on Saturday.

In New Delhi, senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley said, “I don’t know whether they have been arrested as stone pelters or not but we certainly know that in the valley a large number of our workers are being arrested.”

At a time when the BJP is accusing the centre and state governments of surrendering before separatists in Jammu and Kashmir, the presence of stone throwers in their own ranks may just blunt their yatra offensive.