Jammu & Kashmir administration grants permission for Bharat Joda Yatra rally in Srinagar

JAMMU: The Jammu and Kashmir administration has granted permission for a mega rally to mark the culmination of the Rahul Gandhi-led ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ at Srinagar’s Sher-e-Kashmir Stadium on January 30, a senior Congress leader said on Tuesday.

AICC J&K In-charge Rajni Patil said leaders of 23 political parties from across the country and people from abroad were expected to take part in the rally.

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“We have received permission from the Jammu and Kashmir administration for the January 30 rally at Sher-e-Kashmir park in Srinagar. The yatra’s Jammu and Kashmir leg will be the most successful with massive participation of people,” Patil told reporters.

She said the yatra had generated tremendous response from the first day.

The march, which started from Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu on September 7, will conclude with Gandhi hoisting the national flag in Srinagar. It has so far covered Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab.

“The yatra will enter Lakhanpur (in Jammu and Kashmir) from Punjab on Thursday evening. The flag handover ceremony will take place near Maharaja Gulab Singh’s statue between 5.45 pm and 6.15 pm.

“After halting for the night, Gandhi will lead the yatra from Hatli Morh in Kathua from 7 am the next morning,” Patil said.

The rally will reach Jammu on January 23. “We are planning a rally in the city and have applied for permission from the administration. We are hopeful of getting it as well,” the Congress leader said.

She said a Congress delegation met the Additional Director-General of Police on Tuesday and discussed in detail the yatra’s security aspects.

National Conference President Farooq Abdullah, Shiv Sena (UBT) MP Sanjay Raut and leaders of other parties will join the yatra in Lakhanpur, Patil said, adding former minister Lal Singh had also expressed his desire to welcome the yatra.

“National Conference Vice-President Omar Abdullah will join the yatra after it crosses the Banihal tunnel into Kashmir, while People’s Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti has informed that she and her mother and daughter would also join,” she said.

Patil said anyone who believed in Gandhi’s ideology of uniting the country and the philosophy of the Congress were welcome to be part of the yatra.

She said many people had expressed reservations about the response to the foot march in Jammu and Kashmir but “I want to tell them that the yatra will be a grand success here as well like it generated the response while moving from various states”.

The Congress leader said Gandhi would leave Jammu for Kashmir on January 24, crossing Udhampur and Ramban towns.

Asked whether the Congress expected any leaders to join the party during the yatra, she said Gandhi had made it clear that the march was apolitical and only meant to unite the country against hatred.

However, the party will inform Gandhi about pressing issues such as the government’s land eviction drive and the demands of Kashmiri Pandits, she added.

Several delegations are also expected to meet Gandhi during the yatra, Patil said. A 40-member delegation from Ladakh will brief the Congress leader about their problems, she added.

Gandhi is also likely to address two press conferences — one each in Jammu and Srinagar.

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