A day after twin bomb blasts rocked a busy locality in Samba leaving nine people injured, senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh on Sunday said there will be no compromise on the security of Rahul Gandhi who is leading the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ in Jammu and Kashmir. The Yatra entered Kathua district Thursday evening via Punjab. After a day’s break on Saturday, the yatra, which commenced from Kanyakumari on September 7, resumed from Hiranagar on Sunday and will reach Jammu on January 23.
According to party leaders, Mr Gandhi is likely to celebrate Republic Day with the people of Jammu and Kashmir at Banihal – the gateway town to Kashmir along the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway.
Talking about the security of Mr Gandhi, Mr Ramesh said the party’s stand is clear on terrorism and that there is no compromise in dealing with either the perpetrators or sponsors of terrorism. “There will be no compromise on the security of Mr Gandhi. His security is our topmost priority and we are following the guidelines of security agencies in totality,” he told reporters at Chak Nanak in Samba, where the Yatra will stop for the night after covering a distance of 21 km from Hiranagar.
J&K AICC in-charge Rajni Patil, J&K Congress chief Vikar Rasool Wani and party chief spokesperson Ravinder Sharma also addressed the press conference, asserting that the Yatra will conclude as per schedule.
“Rahul Gandhi is staying back in the Union territory and is likely to hoist the tricolour at Banihal along the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway on the Republic Day,” Mr Wani said.
Two back-to-back explosions had rocked a busy locality on the outskirts of Jammu on Saturday, leaving nine people injured, officials had said, adding that IEDs were used to carry out the explosions in an SUV parked in a repair shop and in a vehicle at a nearby junkyard at Transport Nagar area of Narwal.
Condemning the attack, party spokesman Sharma said the last leg of the Yatra in Jammu and Kashmir was chalked out in consultation with the security agencies.“We are concerned about the safety and security of our leader. The twin explosions at Narwal and another in Bajalta a day earlier raise a question mark on the security arrangements,” he said. “We accept that the security agencies are fully alert and are doing their job satisfactorily, but claims of the government that terrorism has been finished falls flat in the wake of such incidents. On December 31 last, they (security agencies) claimed that terrorism had been eliminated and the next day there was an attack in Dhangri village of Rajouri, leaving seven people belonging to the minority community dead,” he said.
The party spokesman also said that there will be no change in the Yatra programme as its nitty-gritty have been planned in accordance with the guidelines issued by the security agencies and the Lt Governor administration.
Mr Ramesh, the Congress general secretary and in-charge communication, alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has imposed an ‘undeclared’ emergency in the country.
“An undeclared emergency is more dangerous than a declared emergency… the BJP has ended the spirit of democracy in the country. Though elections are taking place but that does not mean we are democratic,” he said.
Asked about the party’s stand on now abrogated Article 370 of the constitution, the Congress leader said, “It is a serious issue, but what is more serious right now is the restoration of democratic activities in Jammu and Kashmir.” “J&K has become an attached office of the Ministry of Home Affairs. There are real issues like when the assembly elections will be held in the Union territory and how will it get back full statehood,” he added.