23 January 2023

Bharat Jodo Diary : 23 January 2023


By Pawan Khera and Manish Khanduri

“Ithe hi raina, chahe shaam ho jaaye (I’m staying right here, even if it takes till the evening)” the lady by the roadside said, as the vanguard of the #BharatJodoYatra passed her by. The time was around 10AM. She was talking about her wait for Congress MP Rahul Gandhi and other leaders who are part of the Yatra.

It is this fire and passion of the common people that has kept the Yatris going all the way from Kanyakumari. And as they reach the end of this particular journey, memories such as these will continue to inspire us all.

Today was also likely the last of the long walks – the 20 plus kilometre marches were done in one go. The Yatris started their walk from Vijaypur, in Samba district and ended near Satwari Chowk in Jammu. It was a straight walk along the highway in a mostly urban landscape.

“What has struck me” says Yatri Juluru Dhanalaxmi, “…walking through Jammu, is how organic the crowds are.” What she means is that the people who turn up to cheer Yatris are ordinary citizens who have no political affiliation, but are simply inspired by the message of the Yatra.

Employees at the Mahindra showroom lined the windows of their office across the street to watch the Yatra
“What has struck me” says Yatri Juluru Dhanalaxmi (centre) “…walking through Jammu is how organic the crowds are.”

This for example we saw Ashika, 9, and Manvi, 6, who, as their parents said, “dragged them to see the Yatra.” Or the employees at the Mahindra showroom who lined the windows of their double stories office across the street.

Ashika, 9, and Manvi, 6, had, their parents said, “dragged them to see the Yatra.”

And the spirit of celebration with which Jammu welcomed the Yatris was memorable. Dazzling white horses by the roadside, colourfully dressed marching bands, people singing along and dancing – they had it all.

It was a long and diverse list of individuals who interacted with Gandhi today. There was Kavitha Kuruganti, author, agricultural expert and activist known for her work on sustainable farm livelihoods and farmers’ rights. A Pahari delegation met to discuss tribal issues. Then there was Riya Kaluriya and others from the Gen. Zorawar Singh Memorial Trust. Furthermore, Gandhi also met with Hindu and Sikh refugees from Pakistan occupied Jammu & Kashmir.

At the tea break point there were interactions with Kashmiri Pandits, Mahila Congress officebearers from Jammu and Peoples Democratic Party leaders.

In the interaction with the Pandits a number of key issues were discussed. The delegation revealed that they hadn’t received a salary from the state government for almost 6 months, a retaliation for protesting the targeted killings of Kashmiri Pandits. In turn Gandhi stated that he would raise their issue in Parliament, and the Congress would send a high powered delegation to the valley on the matter of the Kashmiri Pandits.

The 20 kilometre long Yatra ended with a corner meeting attended by a capacity crowd. Speaking on the occasion Gandhi made a few critical points. On unemployment, he stated “The highest unemployment is in Jammu”. He said that students dreamt of becoming engineers, doctors, lawyers, or army personnel; but after finishing their education, they were unable to find jobs. The army was an option but that option has closed with Agniveer.

He said that the by introducing Agniveer, the BJP proved that it did not “understand the ethos of army.” He charged that the BJP was “playing with the relationship of the army with the nation.”

On the issue of statehood Gandhi told the crowd that said that the BJP had “Snatched all your rights.” He stated that the Congress party will prioritise the needs of the people in this regard.

We also take this occasion to celebrate the 126th birth anniversary of #NetajiSubhasChandraBose. A national icon who worked to create a united India.

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)

Travel Facts

1. District names: Samba, Jammu
2. Samba 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. Samba 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. Samba 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 in Samba.
6. The fort of Samba is a major historical site.
7. Jammu city is known as the City of Temples for its ancient temples and Hindu shrines.
8. Jammu city is a focal point for the pilgrims going to Kashmir valley and Vaishno Devi.

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