Srinagar: Senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi today made a fervent appeal for an end to bloodshed in Jammu and Kashmir.
He was addressing the culmination function of his Bharat Jodo Yatra (BJY) at Sher-e-Kashmir Stadium here. Amid snowfall Rahul wearing the traditional Kashmiri pheran addressed the gathering.
Leaders from Congress and a number of senior national and regional opposition parties also spoke. They included Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharag and Priyanka Gandhi, National Conference Vice President Omar Abdullah and PDP President Mehbooba Mufti. Earlier, Rahul Gandhi unfurled the national flag at the party headquarters at Maulana Azad Road here.
Rahul said that he understands the pain of those families affected by bloodshed as his family is also a victim of it."
I can understand the pain of the people of Kashmir, who lost their family members in the violence . I can understand the pain of families of security forces, who were killed. This bloodshed must come to an end and so must the pain inflicted by it,” he said.
"Nobody should get a phone call that his or her family member has been killed in violence. I have received such calls when my grandmother Indira Gandhi and later my father Rajiv Gandhi were killed. People of Kashmir or families of security forces receive such calls whenever their family member gets killed. There should be an end to such calls," Rahul said. Congress leader said this is the message of his yatra in Jammu and Kashmir.
He said the top leadership of BJP does not understand this pain of bloodshed as they have not seen it and that is why they are “preaching bloodshed and violence, which is against the basic foundation of this country.” The foundation of this country is based on tolerance, mutual love, respect and co-existence,” he said.
Rahul said that he considers Kashmiriyat to be his home, which for him is a way of life. He referred to thoughts of Shiva and ‘shoonyata’ (nothingness) attack on selfand attack on one’s arrogance.
“In Islam, there is the concept of fanaa which is similar to shoonyata. The ideologies of shoonyata and fanaa are deeply connected for years, and that is called Kashmiriyat. The same thought exists in other states as well and these are the foundation of this country,” he said.
Rahul said he was advised by officials not to walk on foot during the four days of yatra in Kashmir.
"They told me to use a car. But I told them that Kashmir is my home and people here are my own people. Let those who hate me do what they want. I told them that I will walk with my people. Why not give haters a chance to change the colour of my shirt, let them make it red. Instead of grenades, people opened their hearts for me, I got a lot of love, affection and reception from the people including kids and elderly persons also. BJP leaders would not march here like this. Not because people of Kashmir will not allow them to march but because they are afraid of marching like this," he said.
He alleged that the RSS and the BJP were targeting the liberal and secular ethos of the country by inciting violence.
“I am confident that the BJP-RSS ideology can not only be defeated but can also be taken out from the hearts of those who propagate them. Country needed to be reminded that India is a country of love, respect, brotherhood, and Bharat Jodo Yatra is a small step in that direction. This yatra was not for myself or for the Congress but it was for the people and the country,” the Congress leader said.
Rahul talked about his roots in Kashmir. He also referred to difficulties including pain in his knee during the yatra. The congress leader said he resolved to move forward to unite the people and the country.
Priyanka Gandhi in her address thanked the people of J&K for welcoming the yatra with open hearts. "When my brother was about to reach Jammu and Kashmir, he sent a message to me and my mother saying that he was getting a feeling that he was going to his home," she said.
Mallikarjun Kharge said that the yatra was not for winning polls but was against hate. “BJP people are spreading hate in the country. Rahul Gandhi has proven that he can unite the country from Kanyakumari to Kashmir on issues like unemployment and inflation,” he said.
PDP President Mehbooba Mufti said in 1947 Mahatma Gandhi saw a ray of hope from Kashmir and today Kashmir and rest of the country are seeing a ray of hope in Rahul Gandhi.
NC Vice President Omar Abdullah said the BJY showed to the world that the majority of unbiased people also live in India. He added that earlier there was an impression world over that people with only one ideology lived here. Omar urged Rahul to lead a similar yatra from west to east of the country and that he will be also part of it.