NEW DELHI – Marking the end of his 136-day Bharat Jodo Yatra on Monday, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, the BJP leadership, the RSS of instigating violence saying they would not understand the pain of people who became victim of violence.
Rahul made these remarks while addressing a rally at Srinagar’s Sher-e-Kashmir stadium to mark the conclusion of the Yatra that began in Kanyakumari on September 7 last year.
In his remarks, Rahul spoke about the phone calls he had received after the assassinations of his grandmother Indira Gandhi and father Rajiv Gandhi. “I understand what violence is. I have faced and seen it. One who has not faced violence will not understand it. (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi ji, (Union Minister Amit) Shah ji and the people of RSS have not seen violence.”
He said, “The people of Kashmir will understand it. The CRPF men, the Army men and their families will understand it. I mean to say those who instigate violence, like (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi ji, (Union Home Minister) Amit Shah ji, Ajit Doval and people of RSS, they cannot understand this. They will not understand the pain. What would have gone through the hearts of the children of Pulwama soldiers, I know. It has happened with me.”
Rahul said, “Those who have seen the violence, we see this (phone) from a different perspective. For all of you, it is a telephone. For us, it is not just a telephone… When I took the phone call, a woman, who was with my mother, was screaming ‘Dadi ko goli mar di gayi (grandmother has been shot dead)’.”
He said, “What happens when a Kashmiri receives a phone call, I understand. My sister understands. The goal of the Yatra was to stop such phone calls — whether they come to the families of Army men, to the families of the CRPF men or the people of Kashmir. No mother, no child or son should have to take such a phone call again.”
Dressed in a Kashmiri pheran, Rahul also described the Valley as his “home” and dared the BJP leadership to organise a similar walk from Jammu city to Kashmir. “When I was coming to Kashmir, my security people said ‘you can walk anywhere in India; you can walk in Jammu, but these last four days in Kashmir you should travel in a vehicle’. The administration said, perhaps to scare me, ‘if you walk, a grenade could be thrown on you’,” he said.
“I said I am going home. I will walk among the people of my home. Why not give a chance to those who hate me to change the colour of my white T-shirt. Let them colour it red because my family has taught me, Gandhi ji has taught me, that if you have to live, you have to live without fear.”
Saying that the people of J&K “did not give him hand grenades but love”, Rahul said, “You welcomed me with tears. We walked on foot for four days. I guarantee you that no BJP leader can walk like that. It is not that the people of J&K will not let them walk. It is (their) fear.”
Saying that Lord Shiva’s “shunyata (nothingness)” and Islam’s “fana (ceasing to exist)” embody Kashmiriyat, Rahul said: “In this earth, there are these two ideologies that have a strong relation for many years to what we call Kashmiriyat… to unite people, not to attack others but to look into oneself… Since my childhood, I have lived in government houses. I don’t call the structures a home. A home for me is an idea, a way of life. And what you call here as Kashmiriyat, I treat that as my home.”