By Pawan Khera and Manish Khanduri
After the tragic demise of Congress MP Santokh Chaudhry yesterday while he was walking in the #BharatJodoYatra, the party had suspended the Yatra for a period of 24 hours. The Yatra began at 3PM, from the Khalsa College Ground, and ended 12 kilometres later at its evening break at the Hemkund Public School.
On this day the Yatris were joined by a number of distinguished individuals and groups who walked alongside Congress MP Rahul Gandhi. These included Balkaur Singh Sidhu, father of late artist Sidhu Moose Wala and Devinder Sharma, environmental economist. Later the Yatra was joined by retired army officer Maj. Gen. Sheonan Singh.
The majority of the walk took place through Jalandhar city, which was lined by large groups of people lined all along the route. “There were crowds all the way,” says Yatri Ankit Sah, “And it was a typical Punjab environment – colourful, cheerful and welcoming.”
In the afternoon Gandhi also had an interaction with a number of start up entrepreneurs from Punjab. There was a wide ranging discussion that included the need for data protection, role of foreign owned social networks, the need to encourage and build a better start up environment in the state.
Why are more and more public figures, accomplished individuals, intellectuals and thought leaders joining the #BharatJodoYatra? Over the past few days we spoke to a few who had decided to walk in the Yatra.
Take the example of Major General Sheonan Singh, an Indian Army legend. He was special forces – from the fabled para regiment, and who won his Vir Chakra as part of the IPKF in Sri Lanka. The Vir Chakra, for those who don’t know, is the third highest award for valour given by the government to members of the armed forces during war time.
Singh is also the nephew of iconic freedom fighter and martyr Bhagat Singh.
“I went to Aligarh Muslim University for six years,” he told us, “And my sister was briefly president of the Students’ Union. Many of my friends were Muslims and I developed lifelong relationships with them. Today we see an environment of hate being fostered by those in positions of power. They are trying to take possession of Bhagat Singh’s legacy while doing everything he stood against.”
Currently in Punjab, 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: Jalandhar
2. Jalandhar is famous for its industries and is one of the biggest producers of furniture and also the leading producer of sports equipment and leather goods.
3. The Devi Talab temple, located in the Jalandhar district is one the oldest and most sacred of Hindu temples.
4. Another important place of pilgrimage is the Gurudwara Chevvin Padshahi.
5. The district is the birthplace of Harbhajan Singh, one of India’s eminent cricketers.
6. According to legend, the district was the capital of King Lav, son of Lord Ram.
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