Jammu, Jan 24 (PTI) Actor-turned-politician Urmila Matondkar was among several prominent persons joined Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's Bharat Jodo Yatra which entered Jammu and Kashmir's Ramban district after starting from the garrison town of Nagrota on Tuesday morning.
The yatra was carried out in two legs to complete its target for the 130th day and reached Ramban along the Jammu-Srinagar national highway amid pouring rain.
The weather department has predicted heavy snowfall over middle and higher reaches and rains in plains during the next 24 hours.
Matondkar, a popular Bollywood star of the 1990s, joined Gandhi shortly after the march started from near the army garrison around 8 am amid tight security, with Congress workers and supporters lined up on the road along the route to welcome them.
Matondkar (48) had resigned from the Congress in September 2019 after a short association of six months, and joined the Shiv Sena in 2020.
Dressed in a cream-coloured traditional Kashmir Pheran (loose gown) and beanie cap, Matondkar was interacting with Gandhi as they marched along.
Noted author Perumal Murugan and J&K Pradesh Congress committee president Vikar Rasool Wani, his predecessor G A Mir and former minister Tariq Hamid Karra also joined them alongside hundreds of others carrying the tricolour in their hands.
The yatra, which started from Kanyakumari on September 7, entered Jammu and Kashmir from Punjab on Thursday and reached Jammu city on Monday.
The march is scheduled to make a two-night halt at Ramban and Banihal along the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway before its culmination in Srinagar with a grand rally at the Sher-e-Kashmir Cricket Stadium on January 30.
A 65-member strong Ladakh delegation led by Ladakh Territorial Congress President Nawang Rigzin Jora joined Gandhi at the start of the yatra and briefed him about the issues and concerns of their people, one of the delegation members said.
A group of Kashmiri Pandit migrant women, wearing their traditional attire and carrying flower petals, were waiting outside the famous Kol-Kandoli temple to welcome Rahul Gandhi.
"We have been wandering in Jammu for the last three decades after our migration from Kashmir. We have come here to welcome Rahul Gandhi as he could help in our rehabilitation back into the Valley as it was Congress which worked for the community in the past by providing employment packages to our youth," Geeta Koul told PTI.
She said the biggest issue for them is the rehabilitation of the community and the BJP has miserably "failed" in this mission and "ignored us".
However, they could not perform the traditional welcome at that place and were later asked to meet the Rahul Gandhi at his camping site in Jaggar Kotli.
After walking for over one-and-a-half hours, the yatra made a stopover and resumed from Army gate Rehambal in Udhampur district amid a drizzle.
The Congress leader later wore a raincoat as the weather deteriorated further with the day's march was nearing completion.
Swaraj India party president Yogendra Yadav, Congress MLA from Gujaray Jignesh Mevani and two separate Congress delegations from Uttarakhand and Punjab also joined Rahul Gandhi.
Congress sources said Uttarakhand delegation briefed Gandhi about the Joshimath issue and rehabilitation of the affected families. PTI TAS PS AB TDS TDS