Rahul cancels walk due to chaos at Tunnel, police says no security lapse

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi being taken into a car in view of the security reasons during party's Bharat Jodo Yatra at Banihal on Friday. (UNI)
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi being taken into a car in view of the security reasons during party's Bharat Jodo Yatra at Banihal on Friday. (UNI)

Omar joins BJY; Mehbooba, Priyanka joining today

Fayaz Bukhari

SRINAGAR, Jan 27: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had to cancel his walk as the Bharat Jodo Yatra (BJY) on entering Kashmir got overwhelming response as thousands joined it leading to chaos with the Congress leader alleging security lapse and Government blaming it for the size of the crowd.

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Gandhi began his yatra from Banihal this morning with former Chief Minister and National Conference (NC) Vice president joining him. As the yatra crossed the tunnel into the Valley, Rahul was asked by his security to stop walk given the absence of police personnel to manage the large crowd that had gathered to receive him. He was whisked away by the security to Khanabal in Anantnag.
“I had to call off my walk because I can’t go against my security people,” Rahul later told media persons in Anantnag.
He was supposed to walk 11 km to Vessu before halting for the night at the Khanabal Dak Bungalow in Anantnag.
“Police personnel who were supposed to manage the crowd were nowhere to be seen,” he said.
“It’s the Jammu and Kashmir administration’s responsibility to provide security‚Ķ I hope security will now be ensured for remaining days of the yatra. I don’t know why it happened but tomorrow and day after tomorrow it should not happen,” he said.
Terming the incident a “big security lapse”, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said Gandhi’s security team is holding discussions with the Jammu and Kashmir administration to ensure that everything goes off smoothly for the next few days.
He said that Rahul was supposed to walk 16 kms today but he could walk only 4 kms due to breach of security. He said that administration must ensure proper security for the Bharat Jodo Yatra in the days ahead, especially when it reaches Srinagar.
He said due to the wrong policies of BJP and RSS, India as a nation is falling apart and the Yatra is an effort to bring the folks together. Ramesh said that BJY has nothing to do with the election politics as of now. “We keep on stating that there are two ways: one that of BJP and RSS and another that of Congress which is the Gandhian way.”
The J&K AICC in-charge Rajni Patil said “the security lapses indicate unfair and unprepared attitude of the UT administration”.
The morning started early with Omar Abdullah joined Gandhi for the walk at Banihal with both leaders dressed in similar white T-shirts in chilly weather conditions.
They had walked for about three kilometres in the morning and drove through the 8.45 km Navyug tunnel. After crossing the tunnel, party leaders accompanying Gandhi found there were no policeman to provide security at the scheduled halt. Gandhi’s security team did not allow him to step out of the car.
Police later said there was no security lapse at all in the Bharat Jodo Yatra.
A police spokesman said police was not consulted before taking any decision on discontinuing the Yatra after conducting one km Yatra by the organisers.
Police also said only authorised persons as identified by organisers and frisked crowd was allowed inside towards the route of Yatra.
“Organisers and managers of BJY did not intimate about large gathering from Banihal joining the Yatra, which thronged near the starting point,” it said.
It further said full security arrangements were in place including 15 companies of CAPFs and 10 companies of JKP, comprising ROPs and QRTs, route domination, lateral deployment and security forces were deployed for high-ridge and other deployments.
“JKP was not consulted before taking any decision on discontinuation of Yatra after conducting one km yatra by organizers. Rest of the yatra continued peacefully. There was no security lapse at all. We will provide fool-proof security,” police said.
The BJY is set to resume from Chersoo Awantipora in South Kashmir Pulwama district tomorrow and conclude at Pantha Chowk for the day.
JKPCC President Waqar Rasool, while talking to reporters at Anantnag said that on Saturday, yatra will resume from Nimbal Chersoo near petrol Pump.
He said that tomorrow, maximum women folk will join the yatra and PDP President Mehbooba Mufti will also join the march.
“Our leader Priyanka Gandhi is also expected to join the yatra tomorrow from Awantipora to Pantha Chowk,” he said.
He said that near Birla School Pampore there will be tea break and night halt will be at Pantha Chowk truck yard from where Yatra will resume next day.
The Yatra will resume from Pantha Chowk on January 29 and will end at Nehru Park Srinagar.