Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi's statement, in which he claimed himself as a 'Kashmiri Pandit', has sparked a political debate in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

Within hours after Rahul Gandhi's address at Jammu on Friday, the hashtag #KashmiriPandit started trending on social media where netizens aired their views on the Congress leader's statement.

"I'm a Kashmiri Pandit and my family is Kashmiri Pandit. Today morning, a delegation of Kashmiri Pandits met me. They told me that Congress implemented many welfare schemes for them, but BJP has done nothing", Rahul Gandhi at Jammu on Friday, adding, "I promise my Kashmiri Pandit brothers that I will do something for them".

Rahul KP
Congress office

Congress leader was speaking at a rally of party workers in Jammu on Friday when he claimed himself a Kashmiri Pandit.

While BJP and its off-shoots chided Rahul Gandhi for his remarks, some Kashmiri Pandit groups appreciated the Congress leader's concern for the displaced community.

RRRM hails Rahul's Kashmiri Pandit remarks

The Reconciliation, Return, and Rehabilitation of Migrant Kashmiri Pandits (RRRM) welcomes Rahul Gandhi's statement in which he said that he will do something for Kashmiri Pandits.

"We, the KP community, appreciate Rahul's concerns about his community brethren. Rahul is a Kashmiri Pandit, grandson of Indira Gandhi, whom the community admired and wholeheartedly always voted for in Kashmir. His reinforcing his KP identity has given new energy to the beleaguered community. Rahul is KP community's leader", Satish Mahaldar, Chairman, RRRM said.

Rahul Gandhi addressing Congress rally at Jammu
Congress office

"It is pertinent to mention here that all the welfare schemes that the refugee KP community today have had been initiated and set up during the UPA rule at the Centre. Manmohan Singh is the only Prime Minister who visited migrant camps in Jammu", he said.

KPs have no surnames like Gandhi: BJP

Countering Rahul Gandhi's claim that he is a Kashmiri Pandit, BJP leader Ashwani Chrungoo said, "First of all it needs to be clarified that the Kashmiri Pandits have no surnames like 'Gandhi".

"A fake narrative that Gandhis are Kashmiri Pandits is rejected. Secondly, it was the Kashmir policy of the Congress party under Nehru and Gandhis which is recognized as the progenitor of the Kashmir problem right from 1947. Kashmiri Pandits were the worst victims of the Congress's Kashmir policy", Chrungoo said.

"Even after the forced mass exodus of the KP community, Congress in league with its then associates played politics with the Kashmiri Pandits and made unsuccessful attempts to blame Jagmohan for the mass exodus. The party did never come to the rescue of the Pandit community during its struggle in exile", he reminded.

He, however, said that it was high time for the Congress leadership to do some soul-searching and recognize its failures on the J&K situation as to where it went wrong in the past. "Mere rhetoric is not going to bring any solace to the people of Jammu and Kashmir and especially the displaced KPs", he said.

Netizens divided over Rahul Gandhi remarks

Although Congress leader was trolled for his "I am Kashmiri Pandits" remarks, some netizens supported Congress leader. "After listening to all the promises @BJP4India made & broke since the #Exodus, Now even @RahulGandhi 's words sounds true when compared to BJP ! or speaking in favour of displaced community", Monika tweeted.

While Sanjay Shah termed this statement as the biggest joke of the decade, another netizen, Abhijan asked, "Why was he silent over Kashmiri Pandits' exodus? Why he protested against the abrogation of Article 370?'.