Cong will use its full power to get statehood for J&K: Rahul Gandhi

TNN Bureau. Updated: 1/24/2023 1:47:54 AM Front Page

‘KPs facing injustice, LG should apologise to them for his comments’

Jammu: The demand for statehood is Jammu and Kashmir's biggest issue and the Congress will use "our full power" to get it reinstated, party MP Rahul Gandhi said on Monday as his Bharat Jodo Yatra arrived here to a grand welcome.
Gandhi, who met a cross section of people from Jammu and Kashmir during his yatra, said J&K has the highest level of unemployment in the country.
"The Congress party will fully support you and your statehood (demand). To reinstate statehood, the Congress will use our full power," Gandhi told a gathering at the Satwari Chowk here.
"Statehood is your biggest issue. There is no big issue as big as statehood. Your right has been snatched," he said.
Gandhi said he spoke to a cross section of people from J&K during his yatra and they raised their issues. He said they told him that their voices are not being heard by the administration. "The entire trade is being run by outsiders and people of J&K watch them sitting haplessly," he said.
Gandhi said Jammu and Kashmir has the highest level of unemployment in the country. Youngsters aspire to become engineers, doctors and lawyers but they find they cannot, he said.
"There was another way (to get employment) earlier. It was with the Army. It has also been closed now by a new scheme, called Agniveer, introduced by BJP. That path is also now closed," he said.
In August 2019, the NDA government revoked Article 370 which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir and proposed the state be divided into two union territories, Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
Defending Congress' decision to start Bharat Jodo Yatra to "unite" the country, Rahul Gandhi on Monday said the opposition party was forced to undertake the 3500-km foot march after it was not allowed to speak on the pressing public issues in Parliament.
He slammed the BJP government at the Centre for demonetisation, "hasty implementation" of Goods and Services Tax (GST) and the recently launched Agniveer scheme.
Gandhi alleged that the government is "facilitating" flight of money into the coffers of a few corporators and ruining the small businesses across the country.
"The democracy in the country is under attack which is a major challenge for the nation. Before the commencement of the Yatra, we tried to raise the issues like demonetisation, GST, farmers' bill and China's aggression in Parliament, both in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, but we were not allowed and the mikes were being switched off," the former Congress president told a gathering at Satwari chowk here.
Gandhi reached Jammu on the 129th day of the Yatra after resuming from Vijaypur in Samba district in the morning, covering over 20 kilometres in six-and-a-half hours. After a night stay in Sidhra, the Yatra is scheduled to leave for Kashmir and it will enter there after Republic Day.
"We have come to open the shops of love in the markets of hatred. With this Yatra, we could see lakhs and crores of people have opened their shops of love, braving rains, cold and hot weather."
He said the people from all walks of life including farmers, small traders, women and children shared their pain with him across different states during the Yatra and they all live together with love in this country.
Alleging that Kashmir Pandits are facing injustice at the hands of the government, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday asked Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha to apologise to the community for telling the prime minister's package employees that they should not seek alms.
Gandhi made the statement shortly after a Kashmiri Pandit delegation called on him during his Bharat Jodo Yatra in Samba district earlier in the day and briefed him about their various issues including "targeted killings" by terrorists and the resultant protest by those employed under the prime minister's package.
"Injustice is being meted to Kashmir Pandits by this government...this morning, a delegation of Kashmiri Pandits met me and briefed me about their issues. I was surprised to know that their delegation was told by the lieutenant governor that they should not seek alms," Gandhi told a gathering at the end of the day's yatra at Satwari here.
Gandhi said he wants to tell the lieutenant governor that they are not demanding alms but are seeking their rights. "You (LG) should seek forgiveness from them (Pandits)," he said.
Earlier, social activist Amit Koul, who was part of the delegation, said they have invited Gandhi to their Jagti township along the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway and that he is likely to visit the community on his way to Kashmir.
"We had a very good interaction with Gandhi and we briefed him about the issues of the community, especially the prime minister's package employees who were provided jobs by the previous UPA government led by Manmohan Singh. They are on protest over the past six months in Jammu and their salaries have been withheld," Koul told PTI after meeting Gandhi.
Nearly 4,000 Kashmiri Pandits are working in different departments in Kashmir Valley after their selection under the prime minister's employment package announced in 2008. The package has two major components -- 6,000 jobs for the youth from the community and building as many accommodation units for the recruited employees.
However, many of the employees fled to Jammu after one of their colleagues, Rahul Bhat, was shot dead by terrorists inside his office in Budgam district on May 12 last year in what was described as a case of targeted killing. They are on a strike demanding their relocation out of the Valley.
"We also raised other issues of the community including the need for enhancement of relief. We requested him to visit our township Jagti or send a delegation but he assured that he will visit Jagti himself and raise their issues within and outside Parliament," Koul said.
Another member, Jitendra Kachroo, said he has come all the way from Uttar Pradesh, where he has settled after migrating from Kashmir, to meet Gandhi with other members of the delegation.
"He (Gandhi) is a very nice human being and a very simple person. He patiently heard our issues and it was heartwarming that he had time to listen to us," Kachroo said.
He said they were initially supposed to meet him as a 13-member delegation but several more joined them and "we raised issues which the community is facing".
Charging the BJP with using the community to further its political agenda, Kachroo said, "They do not really mean to solve the problems of the Kashmiri Pandits because for them it is a political agenda to spread hate on the basis of religion.
"We used to live together in Kashmir -- both Muslims and Hindus -- as we shared culture, dressing, and even surnames. There was never such a type of atmosphere, and we all were living together (before the eruption of militancy and migration of the community)," he said.
Earlier, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday paid obeisance at the Raghunath temple here, soon after his Bharat Jodo Yatra entered the city.
He performed a special puja at the shrine, which had come under twin terrorist attacks in 2002.
Gandhi, who was accompanied by senior party leaders, was garlanded by the priests at the temple after being welcomed by the president of the Dharmarth Trust, Ajay Gandotra.
President of the Trust Dr Karan Singh also welcomed Gandhi to the shrine.

Comment on this Story