New Delhi, Aug 12 (PTI) Union minister Anurag Thakur on Friday said there was a time when the "Tiranga was burnt" in the Valley, but after the abrogation of Article 370 under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, now one can hoist the national flag in any corner of Jammu & Kashmir and anytime.
He was addressing a gathering at the Talkatora Stadium here during the grand finale of the youth-centric activation programme 'Badhe Chalo' conceived by the Ministry of Culture as part of 'Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav' to "instill a deeper sense of love for the country".
In his speech, he chanted slogans like 'Bharat Mata ki Jai' and 'Har Ghar Tiranga' and exhorted the crowd to join him in chanting.
Thakur, who holds the portfolios of Information & Broadcasting and Youth Affairs and Sports, recalled the days of 2011 when he, as the then chief of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, was part of an Ekta Yatra.
"At that time, it was a crime to hoist a national flag in Kashmir," he alleged.
"But, but after the abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35A under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, now one can hoist the national flag in any corner of Jammu & Kashmir and at anytime," he said.
Thakur said he and senior leaders Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj were "arrested" from the state's border area in 2011.
"But, I must tell you, a large number of youths were ready to sacrifice their lives to hoist the national flag at Lal Chowk," he recalled.
On August 5, 2019 the Centre ended the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution and bifurcated the erstwhile state into Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
Thakur further said that there was a time "when the Tiranga was burnt in the Valley" and "abuses were hurled in the name of Hindustani" there.
"But, now, brothers and sisters of J-K are chanting 'Bharat Mata ki Jai' and hoisting Tiranga," he said.
The minister, along with Union Minister for Culture and Tourism G Kishan Reddy, administered a 'Har Ghar Tiranga' pledge to people present on the occasion.
Reddy in his address said, "We have to make a Yuva Bharat, Nava Bharat, Surakshit Bharat, Samriddh Bharat and Shaktishali Bharat".
He said the next 25 years belong to the youth, and "we must work towards making a strong India, a Vishwaguru"
Reddy said others can look at India with gentle eyes, "but not with any enmity in their eyes".
From August 13-15, "from village to cities, every house should have a tricolour under the 'Har Ghar Tiranga' campaign".
"We are fortunate to see this 75th anniversary of India's Azadi, and this celebration on August 15 will be the largest event of its kind since Independence," he said.
'Badhe Chalo' has been organised since August 5, and has witnessed seven days of power-packed performances across 70 cities of India, the ministry said.