Rahul dares Shah: ‘Walk from Jammu to Lal Chowk if situation is so good’

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SRINAGAR: Targeting the Centre over the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Sunday said that Union Home Minister Amit Shah and other BJP leaders should walk from Jammu to Lal Chowk if the situation is so good in the Union Territory.

Addressing a press conference here, the Congress MP said, “Targeted killings and bomb blasts are happening in Jammu and Kashmir. If the security situation has improved, then the conversation the security personnel are having with me should not have been required. If the situation is so good, why don’t the BJP people walk from Jammu to Lal Chowk? Why doesn’t Amit Shah walk from Jammu to Kashmir if the situation is so secure? I don’t think that argument holds.”

The Congress has alleged a security lapse during the Bharat Jodo Yatra in Kashmir. Earlier on Friday, Rahul Gandhi had alleged that police arrangement “completely collapsed” during the Bharat Jodo Yatra in Jammu and Kashmir and he had “to cancel” his walk.

Rahul Gandhi, who briefly addressed a press briefing at Khanabal in Anantnag, said there was a large crowd and it is important that the police manage it. “This morning (Friday), we had quite a large crowd that had gathered and we were looking forward to walking on the Bharat Jodo Yatra. But, unfortunately, the police arrangement completely collapsed and the police people, who were supposed to manage the crowd and hold the rope, were nowhere to be seen”, Gandhi said.

“So, my security people were very uncomfortable with me walking further on the yatra. So, I had to cancel my walk. The other yatris, of course, did the walk. I think, it is important that the police manage the crowd, so that we can do the yatra. It is very difficult for me to go against, what my security people are recommending”, he added.

The Jammu and Kashmir administration said that the size of the crowd was larger than planned. R K Goyal, Additional Chief Secretary (FC), Home Department of Jammu and Kashmir said the government is acutely mindful of security concerns and all arrangements were made to ensure the best possible security for the ongoing Bharat Jodo Yatra.

“The size of the crowd was larger than planned which led to the pressure on the available security resources and created the impression that security arrangements were not in place. However, 15 companies of paramilitary forces and 10 companies of J-K police were deployed,” Goyal had said. He further said a large section of the crowd from the Banihal side, which was supposed to have returned to Banihal, rushed to the Kashmir side.

The Congress leader, accompanied by his sister and party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi, on Sunday unfurled the national flag at the clock tower at Lal Chowk in Srinagar as the Bharat Jodo Yatra entered its final day before concluding on Monday. The yatra will proceed to Nehru Park in the Boulevard area of the city and will culminate on Monday.

Meanwhile, senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said that permission to unfurl the Tricolor at Srinagar’s Lal Chowk on Sunday was given by the state administration. The Congress had earlier planned to hoist the national flag at the PCC office on Monday to mark the end of the Rahul Gandhi-led Bharat Jodo Yatra in Jammu and Kashmir.

“Rahul Gandhi was supposed to unfurl the national flag on January 30 at the PCC office, since permission to do so elsewhere was not given. On Saturday evening, state administration allowed him to do so at Lal Chowk, but on the condition that it should be done on January 29 at end of Bharat Jodo Yatra,” he tweeted.

The Bharat Jodo Yatra, which started in Kanyakumari on September 7, concludes on January 30 in Srinagar after covering 3,970 km, 12 states, and two Union Territories. (ANI)

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