The Jammu Kashmir police on Monday afternoon allegedly stopped the media from covering the Bharat Jodo Yatra in Jammu.
Today was also likely the last of the long Bharat Jodo Yatra. The Yatris started their walk from Vijaypur, in Samba district, and ended near Satwari Chowk in Jammu. It was an explicit walk along the highway in an urban area.
A media report by Jammu-based Straight-Line said that several media personnel were told to not move towards the spot of the Congress foot March which is in its final stage. The Police personnel who stopped the media personnel from moving towards the venue refused to answer any questions from the media personnel in Jammu.
Locals also alleged that they were being stopped from moving toward the venue of the Yatra. Meanwhile, a big delegation of Kashmiri pandits met the Congress leader and appraised him of various issues faced by the minority community.
On Monday, Rahul Gandhi also said that despite the growing unemployment in the region jobs were being provided to outsiders. The Congress has promised to give Jammu and Kashmir statehood if they come into power:
“What has struck me,” says Yatri Juluru Dhanalaxmi, “…walking through Jammu, is how organic the crowds are.” People who came to cheer the Yatris are ordinary citizens who have no political affiliation but are simply inspired by the message of the Yatra.
The spirit of celebration with which Jammu welcomed the Yatris was memorable. Dazzling white horses by the roadside with colorfully dressed marching bands, and people singing along and dancing.
It was a long and mixed list of people who interacted with Rahul Gandhi today. There was Kavitha Kuruganti, author, agricultural expert, and activist known for her work on sustainable farm livelihoods and farmers’ rights. A Pahari delegation met to discuss tribal issues. Then there was Riya Kaluriya and others from the Gen. Zorawar Singh Memorial Trust. Furthermore, Gandhi also met with Hindu and Sikh refugees from Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
At the tea break, there were interactions with Kashmiri Pandits, Mahila Congress office-bearers from Jammu, and Peoples Democratic Party leaders.
In the interaction with the Pandits, a number of key issues were discussed. The delegation revealed that they hadn’t received a salary from the state government for almost six months, a retaliation for protesting the targeted killings of Kashmiri Pandits. In turn, Gandhi stated that he would raise their issue in Parliament, and the Congress would send a high-powered delegation to the valley on the matter of the Kashmiri Pandits.
The 20-kilometer-long Yatra ended with a corner meeting attended by a capacity crowd. Speaking on the occasion Gandhi made a few critical points. On unemployment, he stated, “The highest unemployment is in Jammu”. He said that students dreamt of becoming engineers, doctors, lawyers, or army personnel; but after finishing their education, they were unable to find jobs. The army was an option but that option has closed with Agniveer.
He said that by introducing Agniveer, the BJP proved that it did not “understand the ethos of the army.” He charged that the BJP was “playing with the relationship of the army with the nation.”
On the issue of statehood, Gandhi told the crowd that said that the BJP had “snatched all your rights.” He stated that the Congress party will prioritize the needs of the people in this regard.
They also took the occasion to celebrate the 126th birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, a national icon who worked to create a united India.
Currently, in Jammu and Kashmir, the Bharat Jodo Yatra is a five-month, 3500-kilometre-long Padyatra from Kanyakumari in the South of India to Kashmir up in the North. It is part of the party’s national mass outreach program aimed at highlighting social polarisation, economic inequalities, and political centralization.
The video below shows the Jammu police blocking the media from covering the yatra.