The Congress leader asks Union Territory administration to fulfil their demands, which are 'their rights and not charity; he also pitches for the restoration of Statehood to Jammu and Kashmir.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday empathised with migrant Kashmiri Pandits and heard their plight in Jammu during the Bharat Jodo Yatra.

He also pitched for the restoration of Statehood to J&K, which was split into two Union Territories in 201 9 by the BJP led Central government.

Mr. Gandhi interacted with a delegation of Kashmiri Pandits and heard the issues raised by the community, including fresh migration in the wake of targeted killings by militants in the past two years in the Valley, and the J&K administration's move to stall salaries of migrant Pandit employees.

Mr. Gandhi said the community had been wronged by the J&K Lieutenant Governor’s administration, and that he would write to the Prime Minister and raise the issues faced by the Pandit community in Parliament.

‘Injustice is being meted out to Kashmir Pandits by this government. I am surprised that their delegation was told by the L-G that they should not seek alms. You [the L-G] should seek forgiveness from them,’ he said.

BJP's approach

Amit Koul, a Pandit social activist, invited Mr. Gandhi to their Jagti township.

Mr. Koul said the Pandit delegation also raised issues related to the implementation of the Prime Minister's package which was introduced by the Manmohan Singh-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.

The delegation also criticised the BJP government's approach towards the Pandit community. ‘These people [the BJP] use Kashmiri Pandits. Whenever elections come, they take the name of Kashmiri Pandits for votes,’ another Pandit delegate said.

In a tweet, Congress communications chief Jairam Ramesh said that Mr. Gandhi also promised to send a high-powered delegation from the party to the Valley on the matter of Kashmiri Pandits. ‘Rahul Gandhi asked them [Kashmiri Pandits] to prepare a three-point memorandum,’ he said.

Mr. Gandhi asked the L-G administration ‘to fulfil the demands of Kashmiri Pandits, as what they demand is their due rights and not charity’.

On his arrival in Jammu, Mr. Gandhi visited the Raghunath Temple and offered prayers. Scores of youngsters were waiting to receive Mr. Gandhi in Jammu. ‘All politicians have failed us. We are hopeful that the Congress will address our issues,’ Shubham Gupta, a local, said.

Steering clear from making any comment on the revocation of the provisions of Article 370 in 2019, Mr. Gandhi instead underlined the need to restore Statehood and address the issue of unemployment, while describing these as ‘the main issues faced by J&K’. ‘J&K has the highest level of unemployment in the country. The Congress will fully support you and your [demand for] Statehood. We will use our full power,’ he said.

Mr. Gandhi said the J&K administration had failed to hear the voices of local people. He said the introduction of Agniveer scheme had further discouraged local persons from being recruited into the Army.

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