No change in Bharat Jodo Yatra, says Congress a day after twin blasts in Jammu; slams govt over terrorism
The Rahul Gandhi-led Bharat Jodo Yatra resumed from Hiranagar on Sunday and will reach Jammu city on Jan 23; Congress asks for tighter security, slams Modi govt for unabated militancy in J&K
A day after twin bomb blasts rocked a busy locality in Jammu leaving nine people injured, the Congress on Sunday said that there will be no change in the Bharat Jodo Yatra plan as the same has been made in consultation with security agencies and J&K administration.
Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said there will be no compromise on the security of Rahul Gandhi who is leading the Yatra that is scheduled to enter Jammu on Monday (January 23).
The Bharat Jodo Yatra reached Samba in Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday afternoon, after covering 21 kilometres in more than six hours from adjoining Kathua amid heightened security in the wake of twin blasts in Jammu.
The Congress said the foot march, being led by party leader Rahul Gandhi, will proceed according to its schedule and reach Jammu on Monday afternoon.
The Yatra had entered J&K's Kathua district on January 19 evening via Punjab. After a day's break on Saturday, the yatra, which commenced from Kanyakumari on September 7, resumed from Hiranagar on Sunday. This was the 128th day of the Yatra.
It started from Hiranagar (in Kathua) at 7 am and reached its destination at Chak Nanak (Samba district) at around 1.15 pm.
Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said the tremendous response the yatra has received from people has unnerved the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is doing everything possible to harm Gandhi's image and using diversionary tactics to mislead the public from the real issues they are facing today.
"The response of the people to the yatra in the BJP-ruled states was unprecedented and so has been the case since it arrived in Jammu and Kashmir. We saw people being pushed back at several places, but they did not pay any heed and came out in large numbers to join Gandhi," Ramesh said.
According to party leaders, Rahul Gandhi is likely to celebrate Republic Day with the people of Jammu and Kashmir at Banihal, the gateway town to Kashmir along the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway.
"There will be no compromise on the security of Rahul Gandhi. His security is our top most priority and we are following the guidelines of security agencies in totality," Ramesh told reporters at Chak Nanak.
J&K AICC in-charge Rajni Patil, J&K Congress chief Vikar Rasool Wani and party chief spokesperson Ravinder Sharma also addressed the press conference, asserting that the Yatra will conclude as per schedule.
"Rahul Gandhi is staying back in the Union Territory and is likely to hoist the tricolour at Banihal along the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway on the Republic Day," Wani said.
Two back-to-back explosions had rocked a busy locality on the outskirts of Jammu on Saturday, leaving nine people injured. According to officials, IEDs were used to carry out the explosions in an SUV parked in a repair shop and in a vehicle at a nearby junkyard at Transport Nagar area of Narwal.
Condemning the attack, party spokesman Sharma said the last leg of the Yatra in Jammu and Kashmir was chalked out in consultation with the security agencies.
"We are concerned about the safety and security of our leader. The twin explosions at Narwal and another in Bajalta a day earlier raise a question mark on the security arrangements," he said.
"We accept that the security agencies are fully alert and are doing their job satisfactorily, but claims of the government that terrorism has been finished falls flat in the wake of such incidents. On December 31 last, they (security agencies) claimed that terrorism had been eliminated and the next day there was an attack in Dhangri village of Rajouri, leaving seven people belonging to the minority community dead," he said.
The party spokesman also said that there will be no change in the Yatra programme as its nitty-gritty have been planned in accordance with the guidelines issued by the security agencies and the Lt Governor administration.
Ramesh, the Congress general secretary and in-charge communication, alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has imposed an 'undeclared' emergency in the country.
"An undeclared emergency is more dangerous than a declared emergency... the BJP has ended the spirit of democracy in the country. Though elections are taking place but that does not mean we are democratic," he said.
Asked about the party's stand on now abrogated Article 370 of the constitution, the Congress leader said, "It is a serious issue, but what is more serious right now is the restoration of democratic activities in Jammu and Kashmir."
"J&K has become an attached office of the Union home ministry. There are real issues like when the assembly elections will be held in the Union Territory and how will it get back full statehood," he added.