By Pawan Khera and Manish Khanduri
It started with heavy early morning fog, and while it cleared a little later, the winter day that started at Ailum village in Uttar Pradesh continued to be that way for most of the duration. The foggy conditions made for a picturesque walk, through, the Yatris travelling through striking green farmlands on either side of the highway, tendrils of just hanging over sugarcane, wheat and the occasional yellow -green mustard fields.
“Uska intezaar hai sahib, ham us hi ke aadmi hain” Mohammed Mujahid told us as we walked the approximately 12 kilometres from Ailum to the midday break at Unchagaon. He didn’t need to tell that the individual referred to was Congress MP Rahul Gandhi. It was long clear to the Yatris that Gandhi is one of the main draws of the #BharatJodoYatra.
It was also a day of transitions as the Bharat Jodo Yatra went from Uttar Pradesh and back into the state of Haryana. One may recall that prior to the entry into Delhi; the Yatra has already spent a few days in Haryana. So in that sense it was more of a return to the state, rather than a new entry.
And along the route we met with people who were gathered patiently to see the Yatra. Iqbal Thekedar was there with his friends; he told us that “The Bharat Yatra is the need of the hour and the need in the country.”
Others like Shaukat Hussain had come with companions from the state of Bihar because they “Knew that the Yatra wasn’t coming that way.” Maybe not this time, but who knows what may happen in the future?
The winter morning and foggy conditions meant that the Yatris came across people clustered in small groups along the rural countryside route. However they were there in larger numbers at Kairana; the entire length of the town lined with excited, cheering crowds.
Along the way the Yatris were accompanied by a number of diverse groups including those from social backgrounds and university settings. Through the 9 kilometre evening walk from Unchagaon to the UP-Haryana border near Panipat.
The end of the journey saw a brief but colourful handover ceremony between the two states, with drummers in striking red costumes welcoming the Yatris. It was time to say goodbye to Uttar Pradesh and hello to Haryana.
Currently in Haryana, the Bharat Jodo Yatra is a five month, 3500 kilometre long Padyatra from Kanyakumari in the South of India to Kashmir up in the North. It is part of the party’s national mass outreach program aimed at highlighting social polarisation, economic inequalities and political centralisation.
Ground research: Aparna Ashwarya (INC Communications Department research team)
1. District name: Shamli
2. Shamli District is mentioned in the famous epic of Mahabharatha. It is said that the district was constructed by Kunti’s Bheem Sen and was also a route taken by Lord Krishna while reaching the Kurukshetra war from Hastinapur.
3. The district was developed as a cantonment area by Maratha warriors. During the revolt of 1857, the revolutionaries used this as a hiding place.
4. The district is known for its sugarcane and jaggery products.
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