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Tuesday, 31 January 2023 | Sumeet Bhasin


Rahul Gandhi should express gratitude for walking into Srinagar

Before former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi embarked on his ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’, Murli Manohar Joshi had done it, unfurling the national flag at the Lal Chowk when the Kashmir valley was infested with terrorists. The early years of 1990s in Jammu and Kashmir had seen Pakistan export terrorists unleashing mayhem in the valley.

In 1991, when Joshi led the yatra into Srinagar, the people were fleeing away from the valley. The Kashmiri Pandits bore the brunt. They became easy targets as the Jihadi terrorists carried out ethnic cleansing. In those tense moments, Joshi unfurled the national flag to send out the message to the world that the guns will not silence the national spirit of India.

His ‘Ekta Yatra’ also affirmed that Jammu and Kashmir will be an integral part of India, and gave a loud message to the world that the day the Bharatiya Janata Party gained the majority in Parliament the artificial barrier in the full integration of Jammu and Kashmir will be removed. In the company of Joshi during the Ekta Yatra was Narendra Modi, who had charted the way of the journey from Tamil Nadu to Jammu and Kashmir.

Anurag Thakur as the head of the youth wing of the BJP had also taken a yatra to Srinagar at a time when the valley was again in the midst of stone-pelting, and Pakistan was seeking to build an international campaign against India. The UPA government was in power in 2011 when the stone-pelters took the valley for ransom. They received money from Pakistan.

Terrorists mobilised the youth to pelt stones to hit the international headlines. In that backdrop, Thakur once more conveyed the message of Shyama Prasad Mukherjee to the world that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and no power can disrupt the full integration of the valley with the rest of the country.

Joshi and Thakur took extreme risks to assert India’s territorial integrity in Jammu and Kashmir. Black money and Article 370 were twin challenges in the full integration of Jammu and Kashmir with India.

Modi was the architect of the Ekta Yatra of 1991. Assuming office as Prime Minister, Modi brought the agenda of the full integration of Jammu and Kashmir on top of the priority of the government. Article 370 was abrogated. Demonetisation dried the supply lines of the black money to terrorists. Stone-pelting was not seen again in the valley.

The security agencies smoked out terrorists. Many of the Pakistan exported terrorists were killed. Sleeper cells were scorched. The Jammu and Kashmir administration launched unprecedented development works. The Kashmir valley now exports vegetables to the Middle East. Cinema Halls are running film shows full to their capacities. Tourists are flowing into the valley.

Srinagar is gearing up to host a meeting of the G20. Industries are coming back to the valley. The local people are reaching out to take benefits of the Central schemes. There is new hope in the valley. Sections of the society, including scheduled tribes and scheduled castes, who were deprived of the benefits of reservation have got their rights.

In this backdrop Rahul Gandhi arrived in Srinagar. This is an abundant endorsement of the PM Modi policy on Jammu and Kashmir. He should express his gratitude to PM Modi that the peace and tranquility in the valley welcomed him. He went there as a tourist, as is being done by several people from within the country and also from abroad.

(The author is a political analyst)

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