Lal Chowk

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Coordinates: 34°04′16″N 74°48′38″E / 34.071238°N 74.81063°E / 34.071238; 74.81063

Lal Chowk in June 2011
Lal Chowk facing outwards, 2017

Lal Chowk is a city square (literally Red Square) in Srinagar in the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir. Lal Chowk was named so by Left-wing activists inspired by the Russian Revolution as they fought Maharaja Hari Singh.[1] It is a traditional place for political meetings with Jawaharlal Nehru, Jammu & kashmir first Prime Minister, Sheikh Abdullah, Kashmir's first premier and various other Kashmiri leaders having addressed people from it.


It was at Lal chowk that Jawaharalal Nehru unfurled the national flag in 1948. It was here that he promised Kashmiris a referendum to choose their political future. It was in Lal Chowk that Sheikh Abdullah announced his love for Jawaharlal Nehru and India in a Persian couplet saying "Man Tu Shudam, Tu Man Shudi, Taqas Na Goyed, Man Degram Tu Degri (I became you and You became I; so none can say we are separate)".[1]

Lal Chowk fire[edit]

The 1993 Lal Chowk fire refers to the arson attack on the main commercial center of downtown Srinagar, Kashmir that took place on 10 April 1993. The fire is alleged to have been started by a crowd incited by militants,[2] while civilians and police officials interviewed by Human Rights Watch and other organisations allege that the Indian Border Security Forces (BSF) set fire to the locality, apparently in retaliation for the burning of an abandoned BSF building by local residents.[3] Over 125 civilians were killed in the conflagration.[4]

Clock tower[edit]

Bajaj Electricals built the Clock tower in 1980.[5]

The Clock Tower gained political significance in 1992 when the then Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Murli Manohar Joshi came to hoist the Tricolour atop the tower on Republic Day. Joshi’s move brought several militant groups together, uniting them against India. Joshi had hoisted the flag in the company of Indian soldiers.

Since then, the BSF and the CRPF undertook the hoisting ceremony until 2009 when they announced it was unnecessary to continue the ritual because the tower "had no political significance" and an official function was held at the nearby Bakshi Stadium on Republic day and Independence day anyway.

2011 Republic Day Controversy[edit]

The BJP youth wing, Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), announced its plan to start a march called "Ektha Yatra",[6] from Kolkata, Bengal to Srinagar, to unite Indians in "Kashmir Issue" & show Pak separatists that the Kashmir is an integral part of India, by hoisting the Tricolour in Lal Chowk on Republic Day 26 January 2011 as a challenge to Pakistani separatists, who hoisted Pakistani flag in the same place. But ruling party at center, Congress & state ruling party, National Conference didn't want it. They think it may create unrest in the Kashmir valley. This created the controversy.

Center & state ruling Govts took various steps to stop hoisting of tricolour.[7] Trains carrying BJPYM members to Srinagar were stopped & sent back at the beginning of their journey. So many BJP members failed to reach Srinagar. But still top leaders of BJP, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley & many others led the march until they were stopped while entering Jammu & Kashmir from Punjab through the bridge of River Ravi[8] on 25 January. Later all the members in the rally were arrested and were kept in custody in Jammu until evening of next day.[9]

Security personnel were asked to heavily cordon the Lal Chowk area on Republic day. But some BJP workers reached Srinagar and hoisted flag near it but not exactly on the tower in Lal-Chowk.[10]

Murli Manohar Joshi had unfurled the national flag at Lal Chowk, Srinagar on 26 January 1992.[11][12]

Arguments of various political figures[edit]

Jammu and Kashmir government says "it would disrupt peace".

Sushma Swaraj of BJP asks "Why are we being arrested? We were marching peacefully. Those who burn the national flag are being provided security while those holding the national flag are being stopped,"[13]

Arun Jaitley of BJP said "For the first time after independence, hoisting national tricolour has become illegal in our country".

See also[edit]


  1. SP college
  2. Womens College
  3. B Ed College
  4. NIIT Residency


  1. ^ a b Randeep Singh Nandal, TNN, 26 Jan 2011, 07.51am IST (26 January 2011). "All eyes on other R-Day march to Lal Chowk - The Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 28 January 2011.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  2. ^ Jagmohan. My FrozenTurbulence in Kashmir (7th Ed.). Allied Publishers. p. 649. ISBN 978-81-7764-995-6. Retrieved 25 November 2011.
  3. ^ The Human Rights Crisis in Kashmir: Patterns of Impunity. "Human Rights Watch." 1993
  4. ^ Gargan, Edward. Indian Troops Are Blamed As Kashmir Violence Rises. New York Times. 18 April 1993.
  5. ^
  6. ^ "BJP to go ahead with Ekta Yatra in Kashmir". The Times Of India. 22 January 2011.
  7. ^ Shankar Kaura, Girja (23 January 2011). "BJP ignores PM's appeal, firm on Tricolour hoisting". The Tribune. Chandigarh, India. Retrieved 28 January 2011.
  8. ^
  9. ^ BJP leaders detained at Jammu airport, sent to Punjab
  10. ^ Omar foils BJP's flag-hoisting plan
  11. ^ For 5 years, he unfurled the Tricolour at Lal Chowk
  13. ^ Saleem Pandit, TNN, 26 Jan 2011, 07.39am IST (26 January 2011). "BJP's march halted at Ravi bridge - The Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 28 January 2011.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)