Srinagar: Senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi demanded the restoration of full statehood to Jammu and Kashmir alongside “free and fair elections” to be held in J&K.
He was speaking after inaugurating a Congress office in Srinagar — his first address to party workers after the abrogation of Article 370 and the bifurcation of J&K into two Union Territories. He had earlier in August 2019 attempted to visit Kashmir but was not allowed to leave Srinagar airport.
“We are not allowed to speak in Parliament. Whether it is Pegasus, Rafale, J&K, corruption, or unemployment, I cannot speak about it in Parliament.” The Congress leader added that all institutions in the country “are under attack”.
“There is an attack on the whole country — J&K, Tamil Nadu, or Bengal. The concept of India, the democratic structure, and our Constitution are under attack.”
Gandhi stated that while the attack on the rest of the country is “indirect”, the attack is more direct in Jammu and Kashmir. “Our position is clear. Full statehood should be restored to J&K and the democratic process, in terms of free and fair elections should be held,” he said. “I fight against Narendra Modi. We will fight against him and his ideology — the ideology of dividing India and the ideology of violence — we will fight and defeat them.”
Gandhi said that the values on which India was founded also include Kashmiriyat and “this feeling resides in me as well.” He added that while he may not have spent much time here “but I can say that I understand you a little. When I come here, I feel like I am coming home”.