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Solidarity With PFI’s Hartal or Weekly Rest Day? Bharat Jodo Yatra’s Friday Break Lands Congress in Controversy

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The weekly break in Congress’s Bharat Jodo yatra has set off a political storm, its timing leading the BJP to claim the one-day halt in Kerala is linked to the hartal call given by the Popular Front of India against Thursday’s nationwide raids.

The radical Islamic outfit was the target of a massive crackdown by multi-agency teams led by the National Investigation Agency, during which 106 leaders and activists of the group, the maximum – 22 – from Kerala, were arrested. Those arrested following the near simultaneous raids in 15 states have been accused of supporting terror activities in the country.

The raids sparked a furious response from the PFI, which said the arrest of its leaders was part of “state-sponsored terrorism”, and called for a dawn-to-dusk hartal in Kerala, where it has some strong pockets.

In a tweet, BJP leader Kapil Mishra alleged that the Friday break in Congress’ Bharat Jodo yatra was a show of solidarity with the PFI’s hartal call.

Rebutting Mishra’s claim, the Congress said the yatra halts every seven days, the last break being September 15 and the next on September 30 before it enters Karnataka.

“After covering 333 kms, Bharat Yatris are taking a well-earned break in Thrissur district. Last rest day was on Sep 15th after we hit 150 kms. On rest days, Yatris refresh their body & mind for next leg of #BharatJodoYatra. Today a medical camp is being organised for them,” senior leader Jairam Ramesh tweeted.

Congress sources said that during the break, the yatris are given medical attention and yoga therapy.

The PFI’s hartal, meanwhile, got off to a violent start in Kerala on Friday, with stone-pelting at Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) buses being reported in various districts, including Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Kozhikode, Wayanad, and Alappuzha.

In Alappuzha, KSRTC buses, a tanker lorry and some other vehicles were reportedly damaged in stone-pelting allegedly by those supporting the hartal call. News agency PTI reported that a 15-year-old girl and an auto-rickshaw driver suffered minor injuries in Kozhikode and Kannur, respectively.

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