"I can guarantee you that no BJP leader can walk like this in Jammu and Kashmir. They will not do it, not because they won't be allowed by the people of J-K, but because they are scared," Gandhi said, addressing a rally to mark the culmination of his nearly five month-long yatra from Kanyakumari to Kashmir
Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge and former chief ministers of Jammu and Kashmir Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti stand during a public meeting amid heavy snowfall at the end of the 'Bharat Jodo Yatra' march in Srinagar on January 30, 2023. (Photo by TAUSEEF MUSTAFA / AFP)
The BJP top brass would never undertake a walkathon like the Bharat Jodo Yatra in Jammu and Kashmir as they are scared, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said here on Monday, asserting he continued his march in the Valley despite being advised against it as he is not afraid.
"I can guarantee you that no BJP leader can walk like this in Jammu and Kashmir. They will not do it, not because they won't be allowed by the people of J-K, but because they are scared," Gandhi said, addressing a rally to mark the culmination of his nearly five month-long yatra from Kanyakumari to Kashmir.
Also read: Aim of Bharat Jodo Yatra is to save liberal, secular ethos of India: Rahul
Speaking amidst heavy snowfall, Gandhi, who wore a 'pheran' -- a Kashmiri cloak -- said he was advised against walking the four-day Kashmir lap of the yatra on the grounds that he might be attacked.
"When I was walking, the security people told me I can walk anywhere in India, even in Jammu, but the last four days in Kashmir, 'you should drive in a car'. A few days before I reached Kashmir, the administration told me, perhaps to scare me, that if I walk, then a grenade can be lobbed upon me," he said.
"I thought over it and then decided that I am walking to my home and with my people (in J-K). I thought, why not give those who hate me a chance to change the colour of my white shirt, let them make it red," Gandhi, who spoke at the venue without an umbrella over his head amidst heavy snowfall, said.
He said he was not afraid as learnt from his family and Mahatma Gandhi to live life sans fear.
"What happened was what I had thought about. The people of Jammu and Kashmir did not give me hand grenades, they opened their hearts and gave me love, embraced me. I felt immense happiness that they all owned me up. Children and elderly welcomed alike me with their love and tears," he said.
Recalling the moments when he was informed over the phone about the assassinations of his grandmother and father -- former prime ministers Indira Gandhi (1984) and Rajiv Gandhi (1991) -- the Congress MP said the inciters to violence will never understand that pain.
"I understand violence, I have endured it. Those who incite violence -- like Modiji, Amit Shahji, Ajit Doval ji, and the RSS -- will never understand this pain as they have never endured it. The family of an Army man will understand, the family of the CRPF personnel who were killed in Pulwama will understand. I know what goes through the hearts of their children.
"The Kashmiris will understand that pain when one gets that phone call. I understand that, my sister understands that," he said, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra by his side.
"The aim of the yatra is to end the phone calls announcing the deaths of loved ones -- be it the families of soldiers, CRPF jawans killed in Pulwama or any Kashmiri," he added.
The Gandhi family scion said 'Kashmiriyat' was his home.
"When I was walking to Kashmir, I thought, this is the same route through which, years ago, my relatives came from Kashmir to Allahabad. I felt that I was returning to my home. Since I was a child, I have lived in government accommodations, I do not have a house.
"I have never accepted these structures as my home. Wherever I live, it is a building, not a home. For me, a home is a thinking, it is a way of life," he said.
"What you call Kashmiriyat, I call that thinking my home. What is Kashmiriyat? It is Shiv ji's thinking. Its deep meaning is 'Shoonyata' (selflessness). It means attacking yourself, your ego, your thinking. In Islam, it means 'Fanaa' (destruction of the self). This is Kashmiriyat. This thinking prevails in other states as well. Gandhiji talked about Vaishno Janto.. 'Shoonyata' is known as 'Vaishno Janto' in Gujrat," he added.
Gandhi said the same message was spread in Assam, Karnataka, Kerala and Maharashtra as well.
"In J-K, we call it Kashmiriyat. It means uniting each other, not attacking others, but self. My family home in Allahabad is near the bank of River Ganga. When my family went there from Kashmir, they spread the thinking of Kashmiriyat in Uttar Pradesh. It is known as the Ganga-Jamuna Tehzeeb," he said.
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