29 January 2023

Bharat Jodo Diary : 28 January 2023


By Pawan Khera and Manish Khanduri

The heart achingly natural beauty of Kashmir continued to enchant as the Yatris began their journey from village Chursoo, Awantipora and ended 12 kilometres near Pampore. This day only saw the morning session, after which the Yatris retired to their evening camp at Pantha Chowk.

On this day the Yatris were joined by a number of Congress leaders including AICC General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra; Selja Kumari, former Union Minister and MP and now AICC In charge Chattisgarh; PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti; Punjab PCC President Raja Warring and MP Deepender Hooda.

Except for a few stretches, the majority of the walk was through mostly uninhibited terrain. But even in the sparse landscape there were any number of people lined along the roadside to watch the Yatra go by. Along the way we met Farhan and Faizan, taekwondo students who had come to “participate in the Bharat Jodo Yatra.” In one particular instance we even saw a number of people rushing across a distant field to come and see the Yatris walk by.

Farhan (left) and Faizal (middle) are taekwondo students who had come to “participate in the Bharat Jodo Yatra”
Speaking to the drawing power of the Yatra, we even observed a number of people rushing across a distant field to come and see the Yatris walk by

And as many, if not more, were highly appreciative of the Yatris, as Congress MP Jairam Ramesh found out from the number of local people who were rushing up to shake his hand.

Congress MP Jairam Ramesh shakes hands with just one of the many locals who’d come to see the Yatra

There was a poignant moment when the Yatris stopped by in Pulwama to pay homage to the Indian security force personnel who died in the Pulwama attack in 2019.

Offering tributes to the martyrs of Pulwama terror attack

We stated earlier that the Yatris’ evening camp was at Pantha Chowk. For those who are not familiar with the area, what that means is that the Yatris were bare kilometres from Srinagar! Many of the Yatris took the opportunity to visit the city and see the sights just as soon as the Yatra ended.

We spoke to Selja Kumari who has been coming to join the Yatris over the past few months. What were her impressions of the Yatra? “I feel proud of my leader, that he has accomplished this remarkable feat” she said, “But I have also been observing how the Yatris have bonded as a family. And now that the Yatra is coming to an end, I see a little sadness in many of them.”

Selja Kumari, former Union Minister and MP, and now AICC In charge Chattisgarh, was present to cheer on the Yatris

She speaks for all of us.

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. Districts’ names: Anantnag, Pulwama
2. Amarnath Yatra, the famous religious Yatra of Hindus starts from Anantnag district.
3. Anantnag district is the birthplace of Rasool Mir, a poet of the 19th century known as the “John Keats of Kashmir.”
4. Anantnag district is known for Gabbeh and Namdah style of traditional weaving.
5. Pulwama district is known as the “Rice Bowl of Kashmir.”
6. Pulwama district famous for milk production in the union
7. Pampore, a city in the district is known as the “Saffron Town of Kashmir” for its saffron cultivation.

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