By Pawan Khera and Manish Khanduri
Ever since human beings have been walking in the pursuit of an objective they have known one thing. That the weather gods are capricious. And it’s the exact lesson that was brought home to the Yatris this day.
But for once that caprice worked in favour of the Yatris. It was supposed to get colder as we walked north, but this day started not very cold and became progressively warmer as time went by. In fact after a while, layers of clothing were removed and many Yatris were walking in T-shirts.
It was the second of what will tomorrow be three days in a row that the Yatris walked in a single four or five hour stretch, covering close to 20 kilometres.
And what a day it was! “Day 128 of #BharatJodoYatra” writes Congressman Jairam Ramesh started with tributes to Girdhari Lal Dogra. A stalwart Congressman and staunch Nehruvian, he was J&K’s Finance Minister for 20+ years and a two-term MP.
And the vibe continued. There were a number of people turned out on the stretch between the starting point at Hiranagar Morh to the end of the journey near Duggar Haveli, Samba.
At first we saw them in clusters, such as little Abhay Sharma who was waiting with his family to watch the Yatris walk by. Or Kartar Chand, standing by himself, but enthusiastically cheering every Yatri as they passed.
But then as the day progressed the numbers grew. We came across Mohammed Taj who was waiting with a long queue of compatriots and who was there because he “Believed that the Bharat Jodo Yatra was the most important political event of the times.” Ultimately as the Yatris neared the town of Samba they saw huge crowds waiting to greet their passage. “The atmosphere in Samba was electric” writes Salman Soz, Deputy Chairman of the All India Professional Congress.
Yatri Mohammed Arif put it more simply. “Shandaar” he said of the crowd response.
There were a number of interactions this day, with diverse groups engaging with Congress MP Rahul Gandhi. Chief among them were the President of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association with a delegation of lawyers, and former leaders of Democratic Azad Party (DAP).
Speaking to the press Congress MP Jairam Ramesh stated that “Rahul Gandhi’s message of peace, unity and love was resonating with the public who realised that the Bharat Jodo Yatra is a serious attempt to unite the nation.”
Currently in Jammu and Kashmir, 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. Districts name: Samba
2. The district is situated on the banks of River Basantar, and the region is famous for the “Battle of Basantar” fought between India and Pakistan in 1971
3. The district is known for traditional Calico printing, a style in which local dyes and wooden blocks are used for block printing of woven cotton fabrics. It is for this reason that Samba is called the “City of Sheets”.
4. The district is the birthplace of the recipient of the first gallantry award of Independent India Brigadier Rajinder Singh, MVC.
5. Lala Mulk Raj Saraf, a well-known writer and journalist and recipient of the Padma Shri Award in 1976 was born here.
6. The fort of Samba is a major historical site.
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