Bharat Jodo Yatra: Rahul Gandhi meets Kashmiri Pandits

ANANTNAG — Congress leader and Member Parliament Rahul Gandhi on Friday accused the Jammu and Kashmir administration of a big security lapse at Jawahar Tunnel, stating that police were missing to control the crowd that had come to his reception.

“When we crossed from Navyug Tunnel at Qazigund, there was a huge crowd for my reception. But there was not a single policeman to manage or control the crowd. My security guards advised me not to go ahead,” Rahul said while addressing a press conference at Khanabal, Anantnag, as per the news agency KNO. “It is very difficult for me to go against what my security guards advise me.”

He said that he was hopeful that security arrangements would be elaborate for his future programs that include his culmination rally at Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) office in Srinagar where he is supposed to unfurl the tricolour on January 30 and address a mega rally at Indoor Stadium Srinagar.

He said that the Bharat Jodo Yatra will continue and will conclude in Srinagar as per schedule.

Speaking on the occasion, senior Congress leader Jai Ram Ramesh said that Rahul was supposed to walk 16 km today but he could walk only 4 km due to a breach of security. He said that the administration must ensure proper security for the Bharat Jodo Yatra in the days ahead, especially when it reaches Srinagar.

He said due to the wrong policies of BJP and RSS, India as a nation is falling apart and the Yatra is an effort to bring the folks together. Ramesh said that BJY has nothing to do with electoral politics as of now. “We keep on stating that there are two ways: one that of BJP and RSS and another that of Congress which is the Gandhian way.”

Meanwhile, several Congress leaders have also alleged security lapses in Banihal and Qazigund during Bharat Jodo Yatra on Friday.

“J&K UT administration failed to provide security to Bharat Jodo Yatra led by Rahul Gandhi. Security lapses indicate an unfair and unprepared attitude of UT administration,” tweeted Rajani Patil, Congress in-charge of J&K and Ladakh.

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“The sudden withdrawal of security personnel from the D-area has caused a serious security breach at the Bharat Jodo Yatra at Banihal, Kashmir. Who ordered this? The authorities responsible must answer for this lapse and take appropriate steps to prevent such incidents in future,” tweeted another Congress leader K C Venugopal.

“J&K UT administration failed to provide security to Bharat Jodo Yatra led by Shri Rahul Gandhi. Security lapses indicate unfair and unprepared attitude of UT administration,” J&K Congress tweeted.

Notably, the Yatra resumed after two days from Banihal, the hometown of the JKPCC president where hundreds of people were present to welcome Congress leaders. He was joined by former CM of J&K and NC Vice Omar Abdullah in Banihal.

Omar while reacting to the security lapse said that he witnessed the outer layer of security vanished suddenly.

“I’m witness to this. The outer ring of the cordon which was maintained by J&K Police simply vanished within minutes of Rahul Gandhi starting to walk. We had just crossed into Kashmir from Jammu and were looking forward to the 11 km walk but unfortunately, it had to be cancelled,” he tweeted.

Rahul was welcomed by several party leaders including former JKPCC president G A Mir at the entrance of the tunnel from Qazigund side along with hundreds of workers. He was joined by PDP leaders and workers led by PDP spokesperson Suhail Bhukhari as well.

J&K Police denies security lapse

Jammu and Kashmir Police said there was no security lapse at all in the Bharat Jodo Yatra.

In a statement issued on Friday, a police spokesman said the police were not consulted before taking any decision on discontinuing the Yatra after conducting a 1 km Yatra by the organizers. Police also said only authorized persons as identified by organizers and frisked crowd was allowed inside towards the route of the Yatra.

“Organisers and managers of Bharat Jodo Yatra did not intimate about large gathering from Banihal joining the Yatra, which thronged near the starting point,” it said. It further said full security arrangements were in place including 15 Coys of CAPFs and 10 Coys of JKP, comprising ROPs and QRTs, route domination, lateral deployment, and security forces were deployed for high-ridge and other deployments.

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“J&K Police was not consulted before taking any decision on discontinuation of Yatra after conducting 1 km Yatra by organizers. The rest of the Yatra continued peacefully. There was no security lapse at all. We will provide fool-proof security,” the police said.

Bharat Jodo Yatra to resume from Chersoo Awantipora

The Bharat Jodo Yatra is set to resume from Chersoo Awantipora in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district and conclude at Pantha chowk tomorrow (Saturday).

JKPCC President Waqar Rasool, while talking to reporters at Anantnag, said that on Saturday, Yatra will resume from Nimbal Chersoo near the Petrol Pump.

He said that tomorrow, a maximum number of womenfolk will join the Yatra and PDP President Mehbooba Mufti will also join the march. “Our leader Priyanka Gandhi is also expected to join the Yatra tomorrow from Awantipora to Pantha chowk,” he said.

He said that near Birla School Pampore, there will be a tea break and a night halt will be at Pantha Chowk truck yard from where Yatra will resume the next day. The Yatra will resume from Pantha Chowk on January 29 and will end at Nehru Park Srinagar.

Other leaders including former JKPCC President G A Mir, on the occasion, condemned the security lapse in Qazigund area. They said that despite assurances from government authorities over the last 20 days that they will facilitate everything, they changed everything and it was very disastrous in the last 24 hours.

“We have already lost Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi and couldn’t take risks and had to save our leader before everything and we are highly condemning the security lapse,” they said.

They added that till the last stage, Rahul wanted to continue his Yatra at Qazigund but when his security recommended against foot March, he decided to leave the spot.

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