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Will Put all Efforts to Restore J&K’s Statehood: Rahul During Bharat Jodo Yatra

Anees Zargar |
Rahul, who is currently leading the Bharat Jodo Yatra in Jammu and Kashmir, said that there is no issue bigger than statehood for the region.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi with supporters during the party's 'Bharat Jodo Yatra', in Jammu district, Monday, Jan. 23, 2023.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi with supporters during the party's 'Bharat Jodo Yatra', in Jammu district, Monday, Jan. 23, 2023. Image Courtesy: PTI

Srinagar: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday said that his party will put all its efforts to fight for Jammu and Kashmir's restoration of statehood. He said it was the biggest issue for the people of the region.

Rahul, who is currently marching in the union territory under the Bharat Jodo Yatra campaign, said that there is no issue bigger than the statehood for Jammu and Kashmir which has been stripped of its rights, as he resolved to support the people in their demand.

The senior congress leader said that he met a cross section of people from Jammu, including men, women and traders, all of whom expressed their support to the leader and described to him their problems and issues.

“I was told that earlier the people in Jammu were involved in trade and would run the affairs of the region. Now, they say that they have been run over by outsiders and the locals have been turned into mere spectators,” he said.

He added that the administration had been turning a deaf ear to the rights and voices of people, according to the local delegations he spoke with. He addressed a huge rally after his Monday’s march from Vijaypur in Samba district of Jammu.

Rahul also met another delegation of the Kashmiri Pandits today, who informed the Congress leader about the plight of the minority community, especially since last year. The Kashmiri Pandits have been protesting against the UT administration, demanding a relocation outside Kashmir valley in the wake of target killings in the region.

“I was surprised when they (Pandit delegation) said that they had gone to meet with Lt. Governor Manoj Sinha but he told them that they should not beg. They are not begging but demanding their rights and if the LG can do anything, he should apologise in the first place for his remarks,” Rahul said.

The former Congress president also argued that there is a high rate of unemployment in Jammu and Kashmir and the future of students is at risk due to limited opportunities, including in the Indian Army, due to the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Union government's Agniveer scheme.

“It is contrary to the ethos of the Army. Army is a family, the soldiers fight on the basis of relationships which cant be build in two or three years. The BJP has failed to understood it,” Rahul said censuring the Agniveer scheme. He added that it will only weaken the Indian Army.

Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh, who also addressed people in Jammu during the Yatra, accused the BJP -led central government of ruling the country on the basis of lies as he raised questions over the so called surgical strikes carried by the armed forces in the aftermath of Uri attack in 2016 against militant launch pads across the Line of Control (LoC).

“They talk about surgical strikes and that they have killed so many of them, but there is no proof. The Centre is ruling with the help of lies. I want to tell you that this country belongs to all of us,” Singh said.

The Bharat Jodo Yatra, which began on September 7 from Tamil Nadu’s southernmost tip at Kanyakumari, is moving towards its last stop in J&K’s summer capital Srinagar. There, Rahul is expected to hoist the Indian tricolor and address a grand rally. Former J&K chief ministers, including Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah, are expected to join the march in the coming days as the Yatra enters valley on January 27. National Conference president Dr Farooq Abdullah joined Rahul on the first day in Kathua district earlier last week.

Not all the parties, however, are supporting Rahul’s march in the region. Apni Party led by businessman-politician Syed Altaf Bukhari expressed his indifference towards the Yatra, claiming it to be a mere party affair.

“We have neither received any invitation nor are we joining the Yatra. We have a completely different view on Jammu and Kashmir than them (Congress). They have their own ideology and we have our own,” Bukhari said during a presser in Srinagar.

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