Congress does a U-turn by hoisting the flag at Lal Chowk. Gandhi once again raises the issue of territory loss to China
After first dumping the idea of hoisting the tricolour at Srinagar’s Lal Chowk, the Congress did a U-turn on January 29 and hoisted the flag at the historic site in Jammu and Kashmir on the final day of Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra.
Incidentally, a week earlier, the Congress party had cancelled this event by calling the hoisting of the flag at Lal Chowk “an RSS agenda”.
Gandhi also took the opportunity to raise the issue of losing 2000 square kilometres of land to China. In fact, a day earlier, External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar slammed the former Congress president on the issue, claiming that the territory was lost when the Congress was in power in 1962.
Interacting with the media in Srinagar, Gandhi said, “The Prime Minister of India is almost frankly the only person in the country who is under the impression that the Chinese have not taken any land from India.”
“I recently met some ex-army people and even the Ladakhi delegation had clearly said that 2,000 square kilometers of Indian territory have been taken over by the Chinese,” Gandhi said.
Citing some recent media reports on the loss of patrolling points, Gandhi said, “They also said that many of these patrolling points, which once were in Indian Territory, are now firmly in Chinese hands.”
Gandhi also reiterated that the central government’s approach to denying any occupation by China over Indian territory is “an extremely dangerous approach”. “It will give them (the Chinese) confidence to be more aggressive,” Gandhi cautioned.
Gandhi also suggested that the government should deal with the matter firmly. “The way is to deal with them firmly. We should be very clear to them and tell them that they are sitting on our land and it is not something we are going to tolerate,” Gandhi said.
Gandhi also criticised the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) by accusing them of attacking the constitutional framework of the country. He said that whether it is the Parliament or the judiciary, every institution is being undermined by the present government.
“Frankly, being an MP means nothing because one cannot raise any issue in the Lower House of Parliament,” Gandhi said. “Our mics are turned off in Lok Sabha if I want to raise any issue and we are not allowed to talk,” he added.
On the current political situation in J&K, Gandhi stated that he met many people during his yatra from Jammu to Srinagar, and none seemed happy or excited about the state’s current events.
“As far as I am concerned, it is clear that the first step moving ahead here is the restoration of statehood and the democratic rights of people,” Gandhi said.
Putting aside the claims of the central government about an improved security situation in the valley, Gandhi stated, “There are targeted killings and bomb blasts happening in Kashmir. So the claim of the BJP that the security situation is good, doesn’t hold.”
He questioned why, if the situation is as good as the government claims, “Home Minister Amit Shah does not organise a similar march from Jammu to Srinagar?”
Earlier in the morning, Gandhi resumed his Bharat Jodo Yatra from Pantha Chowk and reached Lal Chowk, where he, along with his other party members, unfurled the national flag at the clock tower in Lal Chowk.
Speaking to The New Indian, senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said, “Originally the plan was to unfurl the flag tomorrow, on the last day of Bharat Jodo Yatra. But we were not given permission for Lal Chowk on January 30th.
He further said that after a discussion with government officials, “they conceded to our demand but only for January 29th, so we made the changes accordingly”.
Among the people who joined the march in Srinagar were the party workers from the JKPDP.
On January 30, Gandhi is scheduled to hold a massive rally at SK Stadium. Senior leader Mani Shankar Aiyar said that thirteen other party leaders are supposed to join the Bharat Jodo Yatra.