Wearing Kashmiri traditional pheran and a woollen cap, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi amid continuous snowfall and bitter cold, addressed people at the Sheri Kashmir Cricket Stadium in Srinagar and talked about shared values of brotherhood and love to fight an “ideology of hate the BJP and RSS.”
He described Kashmiriyat, tradition of communal harmony and religious syncretism of the Kashmir Valley and other such concepts as core of the country’s ideology, which is under attack from the BJP and RSS.
“And our endeavour is we should stand up against BJP-RSS ideology. We should stand against their ideology in unison. And I know we will succeed,” he added
"Many in my party will not like it but I have not done this (yatra) for myself or for the Congress. I have done it for the people of the country. Our aim is to stand against the ideology that wants to destroy the core of this country," Rahul Gandhi said at the finale ceremony of his yatra. Several national and regional party leaders including former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti joined him at the stage with other Congress leaders.
Recounting many incidents and people who came to see him during the long yatra at different places.
He said four children came to him one day. He said they were very young children and were beggars having no clothes on and there was dirt on their bodies. He said went down on his knees and hugged them.
He said they were cold and shivering and maybe they were without food. “I thought that if they're not wearing jackets or sweaters, I too shouldn't wear the same,” Rahul said. “One person walking along with us told me these children are dirty and you shouldn’t have met them. I told him they are cleaner than you and me,” he added.
He said one day he was suffering from severe knee pain. “That day I thought it would be difficult to walk another six or seven km. A young girl came to me and she told me she had written something for me. She insisted that I read it later. She hugged me and ran away,” he said. He said she had written she knew his knees were hurting but he should keep walking. “She had written," I am walking for her future." That day I didn’t feel any pain,” he added.
He said in Jammu and Kashmir he felt he was on his way to home as his ancestors had travelled from Kashmiri to settle in Allahabad.
“I told you my family had gone from Kashmir to Allahabad. In Allahabad our house is on the banks of river Sangam and when our family went to Allahabad they took along the concept of Kashmiriyat and spread the thought of Kashmiriyat. In Uttar Pradesh it is called Ganga–Jamuni Tehzeeb,” he added.
“I was told by the security people that you can walk by foot in any part of the country. They told me that I can walk by foot in Jammu but not in Kashmir in the last four days of the yatra. They suggested I should take a vehicle.”
“Four days ago the administration told me that if I walk in Kashmir a grenade could be thrown at me. I thought I will walk among people of my own home and also give a chance to those who hate me to turn my white shirt red,” Gandhi said emotionally. He said his family has taught him that life should be lived fearlessly.
“People of Jammu and Kashmir opened their hearts for me. People of Jammu and Kashmir welcomed me with tears,” he said. Narrating how he heard about assisnation of his grandmother Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and his father Rajiv Gandhi, he said he understands violence as he has seen and faced it. “Those who have not suffered violence cannot understand it. People of Kashmir will understand it. Army and CRPF understand it,” he said.
He said he was in school when he got a phone call about his grandmother’s killing. Showing his mobile phone to people, he said, those who encounter the violence see their phone differently as they get calls about the killing of their loved ones.
“I was in America when I got a call. It is like those calls that families of those soldiers who died in Pulwama might have received. It is like those calls that thousands of Kashmiris might have received. My father’s friend was on the phone informing me about my father’s death,” he said.
He said the Prime Minister, BJP and RSS cannot understand when people or soldiers get such calls.
“Someone told me what this yatra is going to achieve in Jammu and Kashmir. The motive of the yatra is that people of Kashmir, army and CRPF families shouldn’t receive such calls,” he said.
“The BJP and RSS attack me. They abuse me. I thank them. I get to learn from their abuses. But I will tell you that BJP and RSS are attacking an ideology of brotherhood,” he said, adding the ideology of Kashmiriyat and other such ideologies across the country are core of India and the BJP and RSS are attacking them.
He reiterated that the BJP has given a way of life to people of the country but Congress has given an alternative way of life also.
“Our ideology is an ideology of love and brotherhood,” he said adding the Bharat Jodo Yatra was the yatra for the country not for Congress.