‘Bharat Jodo Yatra Organisers Didn’t Intimate About Large Gathering’: J&K Police Deny Lapse

The J&K Police on Friday denied any security lapse during the Rahul Gandhi-led Bharat Jodo Yatra when it entered the Kashmir Valley after Congress alleged mismanagement of crowd by the administration. In a statement, J&K Police said the organisers of the march did not intimate them about a large gathering from Banihal joining the Yatra.

“Only authorised persons as identified by organisers and frisked crowd was allowed inside towards the route of Bharat Jodo Yatra. Organisers and managers of BJY did not intimate about large gathering from Banihal joining the Yatra,” J&K Police said.

The police further stated that full security arrangements were in place during the yatra route.

“15 Coys of CAPFs and 10 Coys of JKP, comprising of ROPs and QRTs, route domination, lateral deployment and SFs were deployed for high-ridge and other deployments,” J&K Police said.

Police said they were not consulted before taking any decision on discontinuation of the yatra after marching for 1 km by organizers. “The rest of yatra continued peacefully. There was no security lapse at all,” police said.

The march was stopped on Friday near Qazigund, the gateway to the valley, after Congress alleged breach of security. Congress said when Rahul Gandhi started to walk towards Vessu in South Kashmir, the outer cordon, which was managed by the Jammu and Kashmir Police, had disappeared.

Gandhi, who was joined by former J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, was scheduled to walk 11 km on Friday but had to call off the yatra after he barely made 500 metres.

Addressing reporters, Rahul said he had to cancel the march as police arrangements by the Jammu and Kashmir administration “unfortunately completely collapsed”.

“Police personnel who were supposed to manage the crowd were nowhere to be seen. It’s the Jammu and Kashmir administration’s responsibility to provide security… I hope security will now be ensured for remaining days of the yatra. I don’t know why it happened but tomorrow and day after tomorrow it should not happen,” PTI quoted Gandhi as saying.

National Conference leader Omar Abdullah said the outer ring of security cordon “simply vanished” as soon as the march entered the Kashmir Valley.

“I’m witness to this. The outer ring of the cordon which was maintained by the Jammu and Kashmir police simply vanished within minutes of Rahul Gandhi starting to walk,” Abdullah said in a tweet.

“We had just crossed into Kashmir from Jammu and were looking forward to the 11-km walk but unfortunately it had to be cancelled,” he said.