HomeEconomyPDP chief Mehbooba Mufti joins Bharat Jodo Yatra led by Rahul Gandhi...

PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti joins Bharat Jodo Yatra led by Rahul Gandhi in Jammu and Kashmir

The Bharat Jodo Yatra at the Congress entered its final round on Saturday as the march led by Rahul Gandhi was joined by his sister Priyanaka Gandhi Vadra and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti, who called the initiative a “breath of fresh air”. Rahul Gandhi resumed his walk from Chursoo in south Kashmir’s Awantipore at 9:20 a.m., a day after he canceled the Anantnag march after his party alleged that the J-K administration’s police measures had “totally collapsed” during the yatra.

Responding to the allegation, the Jammu and Kashmir administration said that the strain on security resources due to the larger-than-planned crowd size may have created an impression of a lack of security during the march.

However, on Saturday, the party said security measures were tighter as security forces closed all roads leading to the jatra’s starting point and allowed only authorized vehicles to reach the site. As part of the increased security measures, there was also a three-layer security ring around Gandhi.

As Gandhi started walking, he was joined by PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti, her daughter Iltija Mufti and her mother Gulshan Nazir, as well as a large number of Congress and PDP workers as the march passed through Awantipora.

A large number of women supporters also joined the jatra on Saturday. While Nazir walked for only about 10 minutes, Mehbooba and her daughter walked with a scion of the Gandhi family to Lethpora, where the yatra took a tea break.

The PDP president said the yatra was like a breath of fresh air in Kashmir as it allowed people to come out of their homes in large numbers for the first time since 2019. On 5 August 2019, the Center abrogated Article 370, which had given special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

The Peoples Democratic Party chief tweeted “Rahul Gandhi’s yatra comes as a breath of fresh air in Kashmir. It is the first time since 2019 that Kashmiris came out of their homes in such massive numbers. It was a great experience to go with him”.

A civil society contingent led by Yogendra Yadav also joined the yatra in the morning. Gandhi was later joined by Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who walked with him till the Galandar area of ​​Pampore, from where they both drove to their overnight destination at Pantha Chowk on the outskirts of Srinagar.

Despite tight security, hundreds of excited locals lined up along the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway from Awantipora to Pampore to catch a glimpse of the former Congress president.

Gandhi wore his now trademark white T-shirt, but wore a sleeveless jacket over it for a while before taking it off again. However, he was wearing a headgear as the temperatures hovered around four degrees. Along the way, Gandhi waved to the crowd, shook hands with many and hugged a few children, although at one point candy was being showered on the yatra.

The security forces had a tough time dealing with the crowds, but the day passed without any inconvenience to the yatra. Gandhi had to cancel his walk from the Qazigund area on Friday as security forces could not control the large crowd that had gathered on this side of the Banihal tunnel through which the leader entered the Kashmir Valley.

Barely able to walk about 500 meters amidst the jostling of a huge crowd, he had to halt the yatra and was advised by Gandhi’s security team not to continue. Gandhi then went to Khanabal area of ​​Anantnag district where he stayed for the night.

On Saturday, Gandhi also halted the yatra for a few minutes to pay floral tributes to the 40 CRPF personnel killed in a car bomb blast in Lethpora area of ​​Pulwama district in 2019. Gandhi laid a floral wreath at the spot where a CRPF bus was blown up by a Jaish-e-Mohammad suicide bomber along the Jammu-Srinagar national highway four years ago.

“Today I paid my humble respects to the 40 brave martyrs of Pulwama at the site of their martyrdom. The life of every soldier of the country is priceless. India will never forget their sacrifice,” he later tweeted in Hindi.

The yatra, which started from Kanyakumari on September 7, reached Pantha Chowk on the outskirts of Srinagar on Saturday. After the overnight halt, the yatra would continue on Sunday morning from Pantha Chowk and culminate near Nehru Park on Boulevard Road in the city. Sunday will mark the last walking day of the yatra.

On Monday, Gandhi will unfurl the tricolor at the party headquarters on M A Road here, after which a public rally will be held at the SK Stadium here, to which 23 opposition political parties have been invited.

Written by : Vaishali Verma

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