SRINAGAR — The Rahul Gandhi-led Bharat Jodo Yatra on Saturday resumed from Awantipora where former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and her daughter Iltija Mufti joined the march.

Besides, Priyanka Gandhi walked alongside the former Congress president amidst tight security arrangements before the Yatra stopped for a break at Lethpora. The Yatra was scheduled to halt at Panthachowk for the night. Thereafter, the Yatra would resume on Sunday morning from Pantha Chowk and will culminate near Nehru Park on Boulevard Road in the heart of the city.

On Monday, Gandhi will unfurl the tricolour at JKPCC headquarters at M.A. Road here, following which a public rally at SK Stadium is scheduled to be held for which 23 political parties have been invited.

Former chief ministers including Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah on Saturday said that Rahul Gandhi’s ongoing Bharat Jodo Yatra has received a massive response from the people across south Kashmir.

“Rahul Gandhi’s Yatra comes like a breath of fresh air in Kashmir. It is the first time since 2019 that Kashmiris have come out of their homes in such massive numbers. Was a great experience to walk with him,” the PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti said.

Similarly, National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah, who also joined the Yatra on Friday, said that the talking heads are largely silent and the channels don’t really want to talk about it but you don’t have to be visually challenged to see the Bharat Joda Yatra has got a very good response from Kashmiris. “Young and old, men and women, have been lining the road and marching for unity,” Omar said.

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

Meanwhile, ADGP Vijay Kumar said, “We’re giving three-tier protection, all security arrangements have been done. Bharat Jodo Yatra is going on smoothly”.

The ADGP added that traffic has also been diverted and there won’t be any problem. “No security lapses happened yesterday, so many people did foot march,” he maintained.

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Member of Parliament and General Secretary Incharge Communication, AICC, Jairam Ramesh on Saturday said that restoration of full statehood and conduct of Assembly elections is the utmost need in Jammu and Kashmir.

“The Bharat Jodo Yatra is not about the alliance between the political parties. It has nothing to do with the elections and other big issues,” Ramesh said while addressing a press conference in Srinagar.

Providing details about the Yatra, he said it will cover 4080 kilometers in 136 days and will end on January 30. “From Tamil Nadu to J&K, the Yatra has gone through 75 districts so far. Out of 136 days, Yatris walked 116 days so far,” he said.

He also expressed satisfaction over elaborate security arrangements and stated that after yesterday’s incident at Qazigund, there were better security arrangements in place today.

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Political parties commanded by BJP didn’t join Bharat Jodo Yatra: JKPCC chief

Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) chief, Vikar Rasool Wani on Saturday alleged that many political parties bossed and commanded by the ruling BJP party didn’t join Rahul Gandhi-led Bharat Jodo Yatra in J&K.

“Few political parties are being controlled by the ruling party, which is why they didn’t participate in the ongoing Bharat Jodo Yatra in J&K,” JKPCC chief Vikar Rasool Wani said while replying to a query during a press conference in Srinagar.

He said several political parties including NC, PDP, CPI(M), BSP, JDU, Shiv Sena, and others expressed their consent and joined the Yatra, however, there were few which are being controlled by the ruling regime and they didn’t join the Yatra.

The JKPCC chief said since the Yatra entered the Kashmir Valley, thousands of people came onto roads and walked shoulder to shoulder with their leader Rahul Gandhi. He said even the government was not expecting such a massive crowd at the rally.

On security arrangements, he expressed satisfaction over elaborate security arrangements by authorities and stated that preventive measures were in place that put impediments to hassle-free entry of people into the Yatra.

He also said a large number of youth participated in the Yatra. “From Tamil Nadu to J&K, people from all walks of life showed their interest, especially youth, despite weather vagaries,” he said.

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