SRINAGAR: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday claimed that the biggest problem facing Jammu and Kashmir today is the BJP government’s withdrawal of statehood and said his party would put ” all its weight” behind the request for its restoration.

“There is no bigger problem at J&K than this (removal) of statehood. Your right has been completely ripped out. The Congress will give its full support to its restoration. We will use all our power to get it back,” he said during a series of rallies just before entering Jammu, also known as the City of Temples, at the head of his “Bharat Jodo Yatra “.

Mr Gandhi walked into a lively reception in J&K’s winter capital where he met a cross section of people and paid homage to the famous temple of Raghunath. Mr Gandhi, who was accompanied by senior party leaders, was crowned by the priests of the historic temple, a complex of seven Hindu shrines, located in the heart of the old city.

Earlier, while speaking at public rallies in Satwari Chowk and Vijaypur, on the outskirts of Jammu city, he reiterated that the Congress had tried to raise issues of public importance such as the “consequences harmful effects of demonetization on the Indian economy, the negative impact of the GST on the poor and other government anti-people, anti-small traders and anti-farmers policies and measures, and China occupying 2,000 km2 of Indian land in Ladakh” in both Houses of Parliament, but was not allowed to do so. “Whenever a member of our party stood up to speak on these issues, he would turn off the microphone. Seeing this and democracy under attack , we launched the Bharat Jodo Yatra, which received tremendous support in all the states it passed through,” he said.

He said people who have met him, so far, at J&K have complained that their land is being taken away from them and that all business is run by foreigners, leaving locals out of work, unemployment has risen. soared and is the highest in the country. He said: “Young people aspire to be engineers, doctors and lawyers, but they find they can’t. There was another way (to get a job) earlier. It was with the army. It has also been shut down now by a new program, called Agniveer, introduced by the BJP government. This path is also now closed.

He complained that the media does not report on these issues and the government also does not try to address them and even refuses to listen to the masses. “People have told me the administration just doesn’t hear their voice,” he said.

Mr Gandhi said that after he started the Kanyakumari yatra on September 7 last year, he and the others would normally start at 5 a.m. every day, but J&K authorities advised them to do so at 7 am. “I wanted to leave at 6 a.m. but they said you had to leave at 7 a.m. and I accepted that,” he said.

The J&K authorities justified this by saying that an extra hour was requested to allow them to establish security arrangements along the yatra route. The Congress, while acknowledging the sensitivities of the situation in J&K and particularly in the Kashmir Valley, left the decision of choosing the route of the final stage of the yatra to the discretion of the government and security agencies.

On Saturday, nine people were injured in twin car explosions within 15 minutes in Narwal suburb of Jammu. Over the past three days, security forces have found and then defused a few improvised explosive devices (IEDs) planted in various locations in Jammu region, including the border districts of Rajouri and Poonch.

Authorities, while holding separatist militants responsible for the incidents, insisted that it was a deliberate attempt to undermine peace and security and terrify people on the eve of the holiday. the Republic. However, the security agencies considered all these events, especially the twin car explosions, as a matter of serious concern as they took place during the passage of the yatra in the Jammu region.

On the other hand, Congress had, in the wake of the twin car explosions, criticized the government for ‘lowering safety parameters’ at J&K, but hoped it would ensure no harm was done to Mr Gandhi and to those who would join him on the final leg of his march for unity. .

“It is a matter of concern. The twin explosions show the deteriorating security situation at J&K and expose the high demands of the government. We hope the security agencies will take care of our leader,” Congress leader Ravinder Sharma said on Saturday.

On Sunday, senior AICC official Jairam Ramesh told the media: “There will be no compromise on the safety of Rahul Gandhi. His safety is our top priority and we fully follow security agency guidelines. »

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