Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, whose two-day visit to the state concluded on Friday, took everybody by surprise when he stopped for tea at Maisuma, a stone-pelting hub and bastion of separatist leader Yasin Malik.
State Congress president GA Mir told media that Gandhi was on his way to the airport when he "suddenly decided" to stop for a quick tea and snack at the locality, referred to as "Gaza strip" by the local youth for the almost-every-week clashes between protesters and the police.
Mir said Gandhi ignored pleas from his security officials, walked up to a vendor and sat among residents as he finished his food. "He (Rahul) had tea, pakoras (snacks) and bakirkhani (local bread). He also packed nadremunje (local fried snack made of lotus stem and chickpea flour)," Mir added.
Mir said Gandhi felt "very happy" after visiting Maisuma as many people walked up to him to talk or just shake hands.
A day after meeting flood victims and farmers, Gandhi spent a large part of Friday in the Valley visiting shrines, particularly the Kheer Bhawani temple (in Ganderbal district) and the Hazratbal shrine (on the banks of the famous Dal Lake here).
Earlier in the day, Gandhi, accompanied by former Union minister Ambika Soni and local Congress leaders Muhammad Yusuf Bhat and Sahil Farooq, also visited a temple at Ishber in Nishat.
Mir said Gandhi also wanted to visit the shrine of Makhdoom Sahib atop the Hariparbat hillock in Srinagar's old city but was not given security clearance.