Bharat Jodo Yatra enters J&K; hundreds walk alongside Rahul Gandhi

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi carries torch with party leaders and supporters during the party's Bharat Jodo Yatra at Lakhanpur border in J&K. Photo: PTI

Lakhanpur: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi walked into Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday, the final phase of his Bharat Jodo Yatra that started in Kanyakumari in September and will end on January 30 in Srinagar.

As dusk fell and temperatures dipped, hundreds of people walked alongside the former Congress president. In a customary handover function, Punjab's Congress unit gave the party flag to a leader from the Jammu and Kashmir unit.

Welcoming him into the union territory, National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah drew a parallel between the Shankaracharya and Rahul Gandhi. "Many years ago, Shankaracharya had undertaken a yatra from Kanyakumari to Kashmir. And today you are doing it," the MP said at a rally here.

He said that today's India is not that of Ram's Bharat or Gandhi's Hindustan because people are divided on religion. "If we are together, we will be able to overcome the hatred of the present day," he said.

Govt diverting attention of people and then looting them: Rahul
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi accused the Centre of indulging in mass pickpocketing by diverting the attention of people and then looting them. Addressing a rally here, the former Congress president said he had walked from Kanyakumari to Kashmir and talked to thousands of people.

"The BJP and RSS have spread hatred. I earlier thought it ran deep but it does not and is mainly seen on television," Gandhi said in his first stop in Jammu and Kashmir, about 90 km from Jammu.

He listed hatred, violence, unemployment and price rise as the main issues confronting the country and blamed the media for not highlighting them.

Criticising the media for not focusing on the right issues, he said it uses topics such as Bollywood stars Aishwarya Rai and Akshay Kumar to divert the attention of people. There was one more point about two India's in making - one for poor and one for the corporate world, he said.

Injecting a personal note, Gandhi said his ancestors belonged to this land and he felt he was returning home. "I am going back to my roots, I know the suffering of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and come to you with a bowed head," he said.

Gandhi said he had been walking about seven hours a day, covering 25 km each day, but nobody was tired as some people had predicted. "I later felt we are not feeling tired because people are pushing us forward."

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