Rahul Gandhi, who concluded his 135-day-long Bharat Jodo Yatra on Monday, said he went against the advice of security agencies after they warned him of a grenade attack if he walked during last leg of the yatra in Kashmir.
Mr Gandhi said he chose to give a chance to those who wanted to “turn the colour of his white T-shirt red”.
As he started his padyatra, Kashmiris young and old accepted him and gave him love and affection with tears in their eyes, Rahul Gandhi said.
“I was warned of grenade attack on me if I walk in Kashmir. It was to frighten me. However, I chose to give a chance to those who wanted to turn the colour of my white T-shirt red,” Mr Gandhi said.
The Congress leader blamed Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and the RSS for causing violence and added that “those who stoke violence won’t understand the pain it inflicts on people”.
Recounting incidents of assassination on his grandmother, Indira Gandhi, and father, Rajiv Gandhi, Mr Gandhi talked about phone calls he received when his grandmother and father were killed and said he can relate to people who lose their dear ones in violence.
“It’s like the phone call families of fallen jawans of Pulwama attack received, thousands of families in Kashmir have received, families of our fallen soldiers have received. I understand the pain of families of fallen soldiers, pain of people of Kashmir whose dear one have been killed,” said Mr Gandhi.
Making an emotional pitch for ending violence in Kashmir, Rahul Gandhi said that goal of the Kashmir leg of his yatra is to end such phone calls.
“The yatra’s goal in Kashmir is also to put an end to the phone calls made to the families of victims of violence. No mother, child or sister should receive such calls,” he said.
Invoking his Kashmiri ancestry, Mr Gandhi said he felt like he was coming home when he entered Jammu and Kashmir.
While heavy snowfall disrupted normal life in Kashmir, Mr Gandhi decided to go ahead with the concluding function of the Bharat Jodo Yatra. The snowfall upset Congress plans to gather opposition leaders on the same stage as all flights at Srinagar airport were cancelled today.
Many believe that standing amid the heavy snowfall at the concluding ceremony of the Bharat Jodo Yatra, Rahul Gandhi sent a message of resilience and that the opposition has a willpower to take on the BJP.