As Bharat Jodo Yatra Ends, Rahul Gandhi Disputes ‘Normalcy’ in J&K, Says ‘No One is Happy’
Srinagar: Senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said that he did not meet anyone from Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh who was happy or excited about the current situation in the region as he completed his countrywide unity march – Bharat Jodo Yatra -- on Sunday.
Gandhi added that he was “saddened” during his yatra in Jammu and Kashmir whilst disputing the claims of normalcy by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
“Target killing and bomb blasts are happening in Jammu and Kashmir and if the security situation has improved then the conversation the security personnel are having with me should not have been required,” Gandhi said.
The senior Congress leader challenged the BJP leadership to hold a similar march from Jammu to Kashmir as he argued against the security situation. “Why doesn't Amit Shah walk from Jammu to Kashmir if the situation is so secure? I don't think that argument holds,” he added.
Gandhi termed his yatra as successful and a learning experience that provided an alternative vision to the people against the BJP and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which he alleged is, filled with “hatred and violence”.
The former Congress president hoisted the Indian tricolour in the historic central market of Lal Chowk in Srinagar after completing his march in the summer capital.
Gandhi began his yatra from the city outskirts of the Panthachowk area at about 10:45 am in the midst of heightened security presence whilst hundreds including his followers, party workers and locals from the area had gathered to see the Congress leader.
The authorities had placed elaborate security cover to thwart any untoward incident as most of the Yatra route remained off-bound for
local commute. Vehicles were allowed to enter the city from the areas Gandhi was expected to move when he reached Lal Chowk at around noon. The market, which remained closed today, was also widely protected by the police and paramilitary personnel in front of whom the leader hoisted the flag accompanied by his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and other party members.
Gandhi, who began his journey on September 7 from Tamil Nadu’s Kanyakumari and travelled through a dozen states to reach Kashmir, has since covered over 4,000 km on foot in what many believe has rejuvenated the leader’s image. It has also rekindled his party workers in Jammu and Kashmir in the aftermath of the defection caused by his former aide Ghulam Nabi Azad.
When he arrived in Kashmir, Gandhi was joined by three former chief ministers of the erstwhile state of J&K including Dr Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti. The leaders hailed Gandhi for carrying out the Bharat Jodo Yatra and termed it a “ray of hope” amidst the shrinking political space in the region.
Gandhi reiterated that the restoration of statehood and democratic process in Jammu and Kashmir is “fundamental” and “important”. He also said that an “appropriate solution” should be found in Ladakh, where many socio-religious and political organisations have launched a protest demanding constitutional safeguards.
“Today history stands witness as Rahul Gandhi unfurled the same flag albeit under completely different circumstances at a time when J&K has been turned into a military garrison. Assurances given by Indian constitution have been demolished by BJP & is a complete betrayal,” Mehbooba Mufti tweeted.
The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) president added that when PM Jawahar Lal Nehru first unfurled the Tiranga (tricolour) in Kashmir in 1948, it was a “momentous occasion marked by celebrations”. Mehbooba said that the PM had assured Kashmiris and allayed concerns about preserving their identity in terms of religion and culture within India through Article 370.
“Despite these facts, BJP claims to have resolved the Kashmir issue by the unconstitutional abrogation of Article 370. Not only have they failed to address the issue but also gifted 2,000 sq km of our territory to China,” she wrote.
Training his guns against the BJP, Gandhi lashed out at the ruling dispensation stating that the way deal with the Chinese is to deal with them “firmly”.
“I keep repeating that the approach the government is following, by denying that the Chinese have taken our land, is an extremely dangerous approach. This is going to give them the confidence to do even more aggressive things,” Gandhi added.
Get the latest reports & analysis with people's perspective on Protests, movements & deep analytical videos, discussions of the current affairs in your Telegram app. Subscribe to NewsClick's Telegram channel & get Real-Time updates on stories, as they get published on our website.