Rahul Gandhi on a two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir, demands restoration of full Statehood for the Union Territory

Published : August 11, 2021 16:32 IST

Rahul Gandhi addresses party members and workers in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, on August10. Photo: ABID BHAT/AFP

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on August 10 batted for restoration of full Statehood to Jammu and Kashmir. The former Congress president was on a two-day visit that culminated on August 10 to the erstwhile State.

While addressing a party meeting in Srinagar he said “free and fair elections” should be held in Jammu and Kashmir. “We demand the restoration of full Statehood for Jammu and Kashmir and free and fair elections here,” he said after inaugurating a new building for the party headquarters in Srinagar.

Rahul Gandhi also made references to his Kashmiri origin while drawing a contrast between the United Progressive Alliance’s (UPA) policy of engagement and deliberation as compared to the hard-fisted policies of the Modi government. “My family lives in Delhi. Before that my family lived in Allahabad. And before Allahabad, my family lived here.” Before the event, Gandhi offered prayers at the Mata Kheer Bhawani shrine in Ganderbal in central Kashmir, the revered shrine of Kashmiri Pandits. He also visited the Hazratbal shrine.

Rahul Gandhi said that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had ruined the progresses made by the UPA in Kashmir. “When we were in power, we started lots of programmes like Panchayat elections, Udaan, etc. We also brought in industrialists to invest in Jammu and Kashmir. We were trying to unite and join. They (BJP) have attacked it,” he said.

This is Rahul Gandhi’s first visit to Jammu and Kashmir since it was stripped of Statehood. On August 5, 2019, the Centre abrogated the Articles 370 and 35(A) of the Constitution that accorded Jammu and Kashmir special status.