Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha should apologise to Kashmiri Pandits for telling them that “they should not be begging”, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has said, following a meeting with members of the community in Jammu during his ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’. Mr Gandhi’s statement came after a delegation of Kashmiri Pandits briefed him about the targeted killings by terrorists and their campaign for greater security.
“When a delegation of Pandits met Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor, he told them that ‘they should not beg’. Lieutenant Governor ji, Pandits are not begging, they are asking for their rights. Lt Governor owes an apology to the pandits,” Mr Gandhi told a gathering at the end of the day’s yatra at Satwari in Jammu.
Four Kashmiri Pandits were killed last year in separate targeted attacks by terrorists, triggering fear and anger among the community. The attacks, which also targeted several migrant workers, have called into question the government’s claims of greater security in the erstwhile state since it revoked its special status and split it into two union territories in 2019.
Rahul Gandhi also raised the issue of restoring Jammu and Kashmir’s statehood, terming it “the biggest issue”. The Congress leader said that “non-locals are running Jammu and Kashmir and gobbling up businesses in the region”.
“The biggest issue is the restoration of statehood, and the Congress will do everything for it. Jammu and Kashmir was run by the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Today, it is being run by outsiders,” he said.
Mr Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra, which began in September from the southern tip of the country in Kanyakumari and has travelled around 3,500 km, is set to conclude with a mega rally in Srinagar, expected to be attended by leaders from nearly two dozen national parties. Due to security concerns, a significant portion of the yatra in Jammu and Kashmir will be completed by bus.
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