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Mehbooba Joins Bharat Jodo Yatra; Rahul Gandhi Pays Homage to Pulwama Blast Victims

Anees Zargar |
The Congress leader, joined by Priyanka Gandhi, paid tribute to the victims of Pulwama IED attack of 2019 in which more than 40 CRPF personnel were killed.
Mehbooba Joins Bharat Jodo Yatra; Rahul Gandhi Pays Homage to Pulwama Blast Victims

Awantipora: People’s Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti on Saturday joined Rahul Gandhi during the ongoing Bharat Jodo Yatra (BJY) in South Kashmir in the midst of heightened security measures.

The Yatra moved along the national highway in Pulwama for over 13 km following which the Congress leader paid tribute to the victims of Pulwama IED attack of 2019 in which more than 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were killed. Gandhi was joined by his sister and Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra near the spot.

Mufti, the former Chief Minister of erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, walked with Gandhi throughout the Yatra and was joined by his daughter Iltija Mufti and several other PDP leaders and workers.

The Saturday’s march went smoothly, according to Congress leaders, who had to suspend their programme on Friday after alleging a “security lapse”. Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, during a press conference in Srinagar, said the authorities had provided ample security to the Yatris. 

Many, however, complained that due to the extensive security measures scores of Gandhi’s supporters could not attend or witness the march. 

“Today there were strict provisions put in place but people still came including women and children and especially youth. We got many calls that there are restrictions but somehow many people attended,” Congress leader Vikar Rasool said in Srinagar.

Gandhi has been marching since September 7 from Tamil Nadu’s Kanyakumari and covered over 4000 km since then. The march is expected to culminate at Srinagar where the Congress leader will address a big rally and hoist the Indian Tricolour.

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Ramesh also said that the Bharat Jodo Yatra and the culminating function is not a coalition building exercise and that the Congress must act as the “pivot or fulcrum” for any alliance or opposition. He added that the function on the January 30th is an invitation extended in “good faith” to like-minded political parties, who they believed, oppose the policies of the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party.

“Congress must be the pivot or fulcrum for any alliance but, the alliance must also be based on positive constructive agenda,” Ramesh said. 

The senior congress leader, however, said that the BJY was not made to build a platform for 2024 and that the party will begin the process of political talks or negotiations after the event.

National Conference leader Omar Abdullah said that Gandhi’s campaign witnessed a “good response” from Kashmiris, who had lined up along the road for what he termed was “marching for unity”.  

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“The most glaring silence has been from those “Kashmir experts” who waste no opportunity to paint Kashmiris as anti-national, communal, intolerant. The public participation flies in the face of this propaganda and that explains the total radio silence,” Abdullah tweeted.

Ismail Khan had walked all the way from a village in Narastan area of South Kashmir’s Tral to attend the Yatra that he believed was vital for Congress supporters like him in the region.

“No other political party has done any good in Kashmir. We have been traditionally Congress supporters and hope they bounce back soon and Rahul Gandhi’s visit to Kashmir is a shot in the arm,” Khan told NewsClick.

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