23 November 2022

Bharat Jodo Diary (End of Day)


Pawan Khera and Manish Khanduri

For a few hours past midday Burhanpur town seems to rest quiet and somnolent in the heat of the afternoon sun. And when the Padyatris began their evening journey, for a while it seems that the heat would keep everyone away.

But then soon after the start of the walk, which was one long road from Jainabad Fata to Transport Nagar; Burhanpur town seemed to suddenly wake up. And how.

You could feel it when Latif, the autorickshaw driver who told us that he has stopped accepting fares, parked his vehicle because he wanted to see the Yatra. You could see it while talking to Shraddha from the activist organisation Ekta Parishad, who had come with a team of more than 20 volunteers to support the Yatra. “We will stay with the Yatra all through in Madhya Pradesh.” You realised it when people such as Mohammed Zahir Ansari walked up to shake Padyatris by the hand, thanking them for their efforts.

Latif, 21, stopped accepting fares and parked his autorickshaw because he wanted to see the Yatra.
Mohammed Zahir Ansari (second from right)walked up to shake Padyatris by the hand, thanking them for their effort.

And then, there was one long celebration, 8 kilometres worth of it, as Burhanpur exploded in a cacophony of cheering, sloganeering, music and street-corner performing artists. At one stage there were seven or eight dazzling white horses in the mix, lined up to welcome the Yatris.

And along the rooftoops, balconies and, in places, atop the fort walls, groups of children and women cheered the Yatra as it went by. “It was brilliant,” says yatri Vaibhav Walia.

And along the rooftops, balconies and in places atop fort walls, groups of children and women cheered by the Yatra as it went by.

Burhanpur, by the banks of the Tapti river, once regarded as the second city of the Mughal empire, the epitome of culture and sophistication had exceeded all expectations.

In the evening the Yatris were accompanied by PV Rajagopal and other Ekta Parishad leaders, and Amulya Nidhi, leader of Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, a public health group.

Shraddha from Ekta Parishad has come had come with a team of more than 20 volunteers to support the Yatra.

Currently in the state of Madhya Pradesh, 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)

End of Day Travel Facts

1. District name: Burhanpur
2. Located on the northern bank of the river Tapti, Burhanpur shares its southern border with Maharashtra.
3. The district is the largest producer of bananas in Madhya Pradesh.
4. It is a crucial power loom industry centre in Madhya Pradesh.
5. Burhanpur town was once known as the cultural capital of the Mughals.
6. Mumtaz Mahal was buried here before her remains were sent to the Taj Mahal in Agra.
7. Burhanpur town is home to the only mosque to contain Urdu and Sanskrit scripts and also the Burhanpur Gurudwara, an important pilgrimage centre for Sikhs.
8. It has the exquisiteky designed Dargah e Hakimi of the Bohra community.
9. It is home to the Kundi Bhandara, an engineering marvel of canals 80 feet below the ground.
10. In 1857, this region saw a popular uprising under Tatya Tope.

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