SRINAGAR — Donning the Kashmiri traditional gown (Pheran), Congress leader and Member of Parliament (MP) Rahul Gandhi on Monday said he was warned that he might be attacked in Kashmir but people here did not give him hand grenades but hearts full of love.
Amid snowfall in Srinagar, according to Srinagar-based news agency KDC, opposition party leaders joined Rahul Gandhi to mark the culmination of the Bharat Jodo Yatra. Leaders of DMK, NC, PDP, CPI, RSP, and IUML were present for the event.
The Congress rally was held at the Sher-e-Kashmir Cricket Stadium. Congress President Mallikarjun Karge and the party’s General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra were also present at the rally.
At the event, Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge said, “Bharat Jodo Yatra was not for winning elections but against hate.”
Rahul Gandhi said he was warned about an alleged attack on him during the final rally marking the conclusion of the Bharat Jodo Yatra in Srinagar. “Several people advised me to traverse the Yatra in a vehicle. My security team, KC Venugopal, and those organizing it advised me to do so. The administration, maybe to scare me, said that grenades would be thrown at me. Why shouldn’t I give those who hate me a chance to turn the colour of my white shirt to red?” he asked.
He added, “My family and Gandhi ji have taught me that if I have to live my life, I must live it fearlessly. But as I thought, instead of tossing grenades, the people of Jammu and Kashmir opened their hearts and embraced me.”
Speaking at the rally, Rahul Gandhi lashed out at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and said that the rally was not organized for him or Congress but was against the ideology that was destroying the foundation of the country. “People of J&K didn’t give me hand grenades but love,” he said.
Rahul said, “What is Kashmiryat? It’s the thought of Shiv ji… on the other hand, in Islam, it’s called Fanaa. Thinking is the same, the thought of Lord Shiva is Kashmiriyat, you can call it ‘Shunyata’ and I have attacked my own thoughts and my pride.”
“Like phone calls would’ve gone to Pulwama martyrs, I also received a similar call when I was in America about my father’s assassination. People die in Kashmir, I understand what it feels when you get such phone calls,” Rahul said, adding that the aim of this Yatra is to stop such phone calls to any son, father or mother. Be it a soldier or common man.
Speaking at a public rally in Srinagar, Rahul Gandhi said, “I did not do the Yatra for myself or Congress, the aim is to stand against an ideology that wants to destroy the foundation of the country.”
“I went from down (Kanyakumari) to up (Kashmir). I was thinking that earlier my ancestors came from up to down (Allahabad). When I was coming here (Jammu and Kashmir), I felt I was coming home,” he said.
Gandhi, while narrating a story of four children whom he met during the Bharat Jodo Yatra, said that they were beggars who did not wear sweaters, and shivered in winter, which inspired him not to do the same during the Yatra.
“…Four children came to me. They were beggars and had no clothes on…I hugged them…They were cold and shivering. Maybe they didn’t have food. I thought that if they’re not wearing jackets or sweaters, I too shouldn’t wear the same…,” Gandhi said.
While signing off from the stage at SK Stadium here, Rahu said, “I have not done this work for myself or the party. But this work was done for the people of India. It is our endeavour that we stand unitedly against the ideology that is trying to break this country. I know once we stand unitedly against it, we can beat them and remove that ideology from their hearts. We are opening a shop of love in the marketplace of hatred.”
Speaking at the finale of the Bharat Jodo Yatra, CPI leader D Raja said, “All secular parties must come together to liberate the country from BJP.”
Speaking on the occasion, Rahul’s sister, Priyanka Gandhi said that the main message of BJY was to spread love and call for the end of hatred by bringing the hearts together. “Finally, we have succeeded,” she said.
Jammu and Kashmir ex-chief minister of erstwhile state and National Conference vice president Omar Abdulla at the culmination of Bharat Jodo Yatra said, “I request Rahul Gandhi to undertake Yatra from west to east, would like to walk with him.”
While as PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti said, “Whole country is seeing a ray of hope in Rahul Gandhi.”