The Jammu and Kashmir government has once again made it compulsory for its employees to attend the upcoming Republic Day function on January 26. However, in a turn of events, this time the employees have been warned of disciplinary action if they fail to attend the celebrations.

While the main function will be held in MA Stadium, Jammu, a similar event is scheduled to be hosted at Bakshi Stadium in Srinagar. From the General Administrative Department to the concerned District Commissioners, the state has issued multiple authorities seeking the presence of its employees.

“Now it is imposed upon all the officers and officials of the state government and Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) stationed at Jammu to attend the Republic Day function 2017, at MA Stadium, Jammu, as part of their official duty,” a recent circular issued by the Additional Secretary to J&K Government, Subash Chibber, stated. “The failure to attend the function will be construed as a dereliction of the duty and disobedience of the government instructions. The disciplinary action as admissible under rules shall be initiated against those who fail to attend the function.”

Such similar orders have been issued for Kashmir province as well. “It is enjoined upon all the district/sectoral officers to ensure their presence along with their entire subordinate staff of the department at the venue. There is a holiday on January 26 but the Government employee has to attend the function as part of duty on the Republic Day. Every employee has to attend the function and no leave shall be entertained on the said date (January 26),” an order issued by a District Commissioner in central Kashmir stated.

Such orders are not new in this conflict region after militancy erupted in the 90s. It has almost become an annual ritual. Once government issues an order, it legally binds the employees to obey them. But then, there are questions.

Agreed that such orders will result in a huge turnout of the audience at the Republic Day venue, but what is the message that it will convey? Will it be a show of patriotism or rather forced patriotism?

Such directives seem to be against the essence of fundamental rights, which every Indian citizen is entitled to. Celebrations are supposed to be your right but not the forced celebrations. Aren’t the millions of other citizens, who don’t personally attend the Republic Day function anywhere across the country, patriotic?

The coercive order warning or rather threatening the employees go against the fundamental duties. The fundamental duties as enumerated in Article 51A constitute a “constant reminder to the citizens that they have duties in building up a free, egalitarian, healthy and responsible society.” But as per the Indian constitution, fundamental duties are “non-enforceable and non-justiciable in character”, which means that no citizen can be punished for the violation of a fundamental duty. The order warning the government employees to attend the function mocks the very essence of this day (Gentle reminder: the constitution of India came into force on Republic Day).

But then, in a conflict zone like Kashmir, danda is the common “magic-wand” used for enforcing the celebrations which suit the Centre’s interests. So, it’s not surprising that the state has come up with another plan to impose patriotism on its otherwise Azaadi lover citizens!