J&K remains out of bounds for politicians, oppn delegation sent back from Srinagar
The Jammu and kashmir administration’s decision to send back the opposition delegation was largely expected given that the government has not allowed any political leader to enter the newly created union territory.Updated: Aug 24, 2019 18:38 IST
The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Saturday sent back a delegation of opposition leaders comprising Rahul Gandhi, Ghulam Nabi Azad, D Raja, Sharad Yadav, Manoj Jha, Majeed Memon, and others shortly after they landed at the Srinagar airport from Delhi.
The delegation had flown to Srinagar to assess the situation in Kashmir valley. The government has not allowed any political leader to enter the newly created union territory ever since Article 370 was abrogated and the decision to send back the delegation was on expected lines.
The Congress had tweeted that the visit led by its former president Rahul Gandhi was an attempt to review the reality in the region after the abrogation of Article 370.
Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad had been stopped twice earlier - once at the Srinagar airport and once at the Jammu airport and CPI leader D Raja was sent back from Srinagar airport since the restrictions were imposed ahead of the Centre revoking the special status for Jammu and Kashmir and dividing the state into two union territories on August 5.
Watch: Rahul Gandhi, other opposition leaders sent back from Srinagar
Ahead of Saturday’s visit, Congress leader Azad said the government was contradicting itself by not allowing people to visit the valley while claiming that the situation was normal.
“On one hand government says situation is normal, and on the other hand they don’t allow anyone to go. Never seen such contradictions. If things are normal then why political leaders are under house arrest?” Azad told ANI.
Majeed Memon of the Nationalist Congress Party, another member of the delegation of opposition leaders said the administration’s fears that they would be creating disturbance was unfounded.
“Our motive is not to go and create disturbances. We aren’t going in as the government’s opposition, we are going in government’s support so that we too give suggestions as to what must be done,” ANI quoted Memon as saying.
“Senior Trinamool Congress leader Dinesh Trivedi @DinTri to visit Srinagar on Saturday along with other Opposition leaders. They will see the situation in the valley after abrogation of Article 370,” the TMC had tweeted ahead of the delegation’s visit.
Raja said that the delegation was made up of recognised national leaders. “We are public faces, and they should not stop us. Will they now pump bullets into us when we land,” said Raja.
The Jammu and Kashmir administration had asked the delegation to call off the visit because they would be putting other people to inconvenience.
“They would also be violating restrictions that are still there in many areas. Senior leaders should understand that top priority would be given to maintaining peace, order and preventing loss of human lives,” the administration tweeted.
It also said political leaders should not make attempts to disturb their efforts to protect the people of the state from the threat “of cross-border terrorism and from attacks by militants and separatists”.
Gandhi last week asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to quell apprehensions about Kashmir.
Jammu and Kashmir governor Satya Pal Malik dismissed his concerns and invited him to travel to the state. He even offered a plane to Gandhi.
But Malik withdrew that offer after Gandhi tweeted that he and other opposition leaders would visit Kashmir. He said they won’t need an aircraft but “the freedom to travel and meet the people, mainstream leaders and our soldiers”.
Leaders of regional parties, including former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, are still under house arrest.