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Akhand Bharat banners spring up near Pak Parliament

August 7, 2019


Akhand Bharat banners spring up near Pak Parliament

Islamabad: Hundreds of flex banners bearing an Indian parliamentarian’s remark about acquiring Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Balochistan appeared near Pakistani Parliament a day after India reclassified Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) as a Union Territory.

Both India and Pakistan claim Kashmir as their own territory since gaining independence in 1947 and have fought wars over it. India on Monday asserted Kashmir was not a bilateral issue but an internal one as it scrapped the autonomy and the special status the region hitherto enjoyed. Pakistan has severely condemned this move and urged the international community to take note.

Amid all this, the following banners were put up only a few hundred metres away from Pakistani Parliament and its prime minister’s residence in Islamabad.

The banners bears the screenshot of a tweet by Indian news agency Asian News International, wherein it quotes a ruling coalition parliamentarian. The tweet reads: “Sanjay Raut, Shiv Sena in Rajya Sabha: Aaj Jammu & Kashmir liya hai. Kal Balochistan, PoK lenge. Mujhe vishwaas hai desh ke PM akhand Hindustan ka sapna poora karenge.” (Today we’ve taken Jammu & Kashmir. Tomorrow, we’ll take Balochistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. I believe the Prime Minister of the country will fulfil the dream of Undivided India.) The headline above the tweet reads: MAHA (meaning great) BHARAT, A Step Forward.

Akhand Bharat or Undivided India envisions Pakistan and Bangladesh as part of India. It has been one of the main goals of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the Hindu-nationalist organisation that is also the ideological parent of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which stormed to power for a second term in India’s general election in May. The Member of Parliament quoted in the tweet belongs to Shiv Sena, an ally of the BJP.

Audacious antic
These banners were erected on electric poles on a busy road in front of the National Press Club in sector F6, right in the heart of Islamabad, the federal capital of Pakistan. They were reportedly put up before dawn and first spotted by the locals as they were heading to work. Sajid Mahmood, a businessman, was among the first to spot them. He made a video and posted it on Twitter and Facebook. The two-minute-long video went viral and prompted law-enforcement agencies in Islamabad to remove the posters immediately.

Superintendent of Police (City) Amir Khan Niazi told this correspondent the Capital Territory Police removed the banners and have launched an inquiry to find out who erected them. Further, sources informed that the Prime Minister’s Office too has taken note of the matter and asked the authorities to launch a thorough probe to trace the culprits.

No headway was made in this regard till the time of writing this report on Tuesday night. A spokesperson for Chief Commissioner of Islamabad told this correspondent the media would be briefed when the culprits are identified.

The news about the banners sparked anger among the residents of Islamabad. They questioned how someone could manage to pull off such an act right in the heart of Islamabad.

“It’s the failure of our law enforcement agencies, who couldn’t intercept those erecting anti-state posters in the heart of Islamabad,” said Sajid Ali, a resident of sector F6 in Islamabad, where these banners were found.

Islamabad District Magistrate took note of the lapse and issued a show-cause notice to Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad, asking why it took them five hours to remove the banners.

When journalists reached the spot to take photographs of the banners, they were intercepted by the police. Police chased a few who managed to take footage of the banners and forced them to delete the videos.

“Police subjected senior journalists with torture that is unacceptable,” the General Secretary of National Press Club Islamabad said on Tuesday evening. Police authorities suspended two policemen found guilty of thrashing the journalists.

A senior Indian journalist shared the videos of the banners on Twitter on Tuesday evening, amassing thousands of likes and retweets by midnight itself.