Kharge writes to Shah, seeks his intervention in ensuring adequate security for Bharat Jodo Yatra in J-K

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge has written to Home Minister Amit Shah seeking his intervention in ensuring adequate security to the Bharat Jodo Yatra in Jammu and Kashmir

Mallikarjun Kharge
Mallikarjun Kharge

NH Digital

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge has written to Home Minister Amit Shah seeking his intervention in ensuring adequate security to the Bharat Jodo Yatra in Jammu and Kashmir.

His letter to Shah comes after the Bharat Jodo Yatra was suspended for the afternoon session on Friday following a "security lapse", with the Congress alleging that the J and K Police had withdrawn security around its leader Rahul Gandhi in the wake of surging crowds during the foot march in Qazigund.

"We are expecting a huge gathering to join the yatra over the next two days and also the function that will be held on 30th January at Srinagar. Many senior Congress leaders and leaders of other important political parties are attending the culmination function to be held on the 30th of January.

"I shall be grateful if you could personally intervene in this matter and advise the concerned officials to provide adequate security till the culmination of the yatra and the function on the 30th January at Srinagar," the Congress president said in his letter to the home minister.

He said he is writing after the “unfortunate security lapse” during the Bharat Jodo Yatra.

On the advice of the security officials in charge of the security detail of Rahul Gandhi, the Yatra had to be suspended, Kharge said.

"We appreciate the Jammu and Kashmir Police and welcome their statement saying they will continue to ensure complete security till the culmination of the journey," he said.

However, the leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha also said, "You will appreciate the fact that a large crowd of common people has joined and walked in the Bharat Jodo Yatra every day. It is difficult for the organisers to tell exactly how many people are expected over the day as it is a spontaneous gesture of the common people to join the yatra." The Bharat Jodo Yatra led by Gandhi started in Kanyakumari on September 7 and will culminate on January 30 in Srinagar after traversing through 12 states.

The 3500-km foot march is aimed at galvanising the Congress cadres across the country, but the party is claiming that the Yatra is not political and seeks to unite India in the wake of growing "hatred". 

"In a very challenging and special event like this, the government is totally mindful of the security concerns. Nevertheless, all security arrangements have been made to ensure best possible security for the ongoing Bharat Jodo Yatra," Additional Chief Secretary (home) R K Goyal told reporters in Jammu.

"... the size of the crowd (which came from Banihal belt of Jammu towards Kashmir) became larger than planned. That led to the pressure on the security resources, which may have created an impression that security arrangements were not in place," he said.

The senior official added that the matter was highlighted in a press conference in Kashmir on Friday. "This has been taken note of with all the seriousness that it deserved," he said.

Goyal said as per the agreed arrangements between police and organisers of the Yatra, only identified crowd after being frisked were allowed to be part of the core of the march.

"It has been learnt that contrary to the arrangements worked out between the security establishment and the march organisers, a large portion of the crowd from the Banihal side, who were supposed to return to Banihal, rushed to the Kashmir side," he said.

He said needless to say, the security resources were deployed visualising the size of the anticipated crowd after a discussion with the Yatra organisers.

"... there are two components of the Yatra. One is the participants always travelling with Rahul Gandhi and the other is the local component, which becomes part of the Yatra in different days in different stretches," he said.

Goyal noted that "15 companies of paramilitary force and 10 companies of J-K Police were in deployment as we speak". He added that the 200 kilometer-long walk between Lakhanpur to Banihal through several districts -- Kathua, Samba, Jammu, Udhampur and Ramban -- and spread over six days was secured by deploying a combination of the CRPF and J-K police to cover the route, places of stay and venues where public gathering have been planned.

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