Srinagar, January 29
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Sunday unfurled the National Flag at the historic clock tower of Lal Chowk here as part of the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’, amid stringent security measures usually reserved for a prime ministerial visit.
Taking a 30-minute break from the Kanyakumari to Kashmir foot march at Sonawar, Gandhi drove to the Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) headquarters on the Maulana Azad Road before heading to the clock tower, locally known as ‘Ghanta Ghar’, to unfurl the Tricolour.
Gandhi was accompanied by his sister and Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and party leaders from the Union Territory for the flag-hoisting.
All India Congress Committee general secretary, in-charge communications, Jairam Ramesh on Twitter said the flag unfurling was planned for Monday but had to be done a day earlier.
“@RahulGandhi was supposed to unfurl national flag on Jan 30th in PCC office, since permission to do so elsewhere wasn’t given. Last evening, state administration allowed him to do so in Lal Chowk, but under condition that it should be done today on 29th at end of #BharatJodoYatra,” Ramesh tweeted.
The security for the 10-minute event was at its peak as all roads in a one-kilometre radius leading to Lal Chowk had been sealed off from Saturday night and no vehicular movement was allowed.
Barricades were set up and concertina wires installed at all entry points with a heavy deployment of security personnel.
Shops, business establishments and the weekly flea market were closed as part of the security exercise for the flag unfurling by the former Congress president.
The ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’, which was launched on September 7 last year in Kanyakumari, has traversed 12 states and two Union Territories—Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, and Jammu and Kashmir.
On Friday, the yatra was cancelled for the day in Anantnag district after the party alleged security lapse, saying police arrangements by the Jammu and Kashmir administration “completely collapsed”.
The administration had said pressure on security resources due to the size of the crowd, larger than planned, may have created an impression of lack of security arrangements during the Rahul Gandhi-led march.
It resumed in Pulwama district’s Awantipora on Saturday and Gandhi was joined PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti, her daughter Iltija Mufti and a large number of workers in the march. Priyanka Gandhi also joined her brother in the yatra later.
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