SRINAGAR — A delegation of Opposition parties, led by former Congress President Rahul Gandhi, was on Saturday stopped at the Srinagar airport and sent back to Delhi, soon after they landed here.
The delegation of 12 opposition leaders had left Delhi by 11.50 a.m. Air Vistara flight. It was not allowed to leave the airport, sources said.
So far, the government has not allowed any political leader to enter the state ever since the Centre withdrew special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
The delegation wanted to visit the Valley to take stock of the situation. The Valley has been placed under security lockdown since August 5, when Article 370 was abrogated.
The delegation arrives at Delhi airport back from Srinagar after failing in its efforts to assess ground reality over there as strict restrictions were imposed after the abrogation of Art 370
Delegation of opposition leaders comprising Rahul Gandhi, Ghulam Nabi Azad, D Raja, Sharad Yadav, Manoj Jha, Majeed Memon, and others that had gone to SRINAGAR & was sent back, arrives at Delhi airport. pic.twitter.com/KZAIQ4uVQK
— ANI (@ANI) August 24, 2019
The delegation comprised the Communist Party of India (CPI) leader D. Raja, Communist Party of India (Marxist) Sitaram Yechury, Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma and K.C. Venugopal, Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD) Chief Sharad Yadav, Trinamool Congress leader Dinesh Trivedi, DMK’s Tiruchi Siva, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Majeed Memon, RJD’s Manoj Jha, and Janata Dal Secular’s D. Kupendra Reddy.
The refusal to enter Srinagar to the delegation of senior political leaders raised a question as to why the government is claiming everything to be normal in Jammu and Kashmir.
Rahul Gandhi said the situation in the state is not normal as the delgation has been stopped at the airport and sent back to Delhi. See what the leaders said after returning from Srinagar:
Rahul Gandhi: Some days ago I was invited by Governor to visit J&K.I accepted the invitation. We wanted to get a sense of what ppl are going through, but we weren't allowed beyond the airport. Press ppl with us were mishandled,beaten. It's clear that situation in J&K isn't normal pic.twitter.com/1XKyaUcg06
— ANI (@ANI) August 24, 2019
The visit of the opposition delegation comes almost three weeks after the Centre abrogated Article 370 of the Constitution that accorded special status to J&K.
Before leaving for Srinagar, Raja said they were not going to the Valley to create any law and order problem. Azad also said they were not going to break any law as they were leaders of responsible political parties.
“The government says situation in J&K is normal. But then they don’t allow leaders to visit? Haven’t seen such a contradiction. If things are normal there, why aren’t we allowed to visit?” Azad said.
“We are citizens of the country. So is everyone in J&K. We are not people who will make things difficult for anyone. We just want to see the situation on the ground,” Yadav told the reporters.
On August 8, Azad had tried to visit Srinagar, but was not allowed to leave the airport. Similarly, CPI and CPI-M General Secretaries Raja and Yechury, respectively, were also detained at the airport and then sent back to Delhi.
Earlier in the month Rahul Gandhi and J&K Governor Satya Pal Malik had entered into a war of words on Twitter. The Governor had said Gandhi was responding to fake news and trying to politicise the situation.
The Governor on August 12 had offered to send Gandhi an aircraft to visit the Valley and see for himself the ground situation, to which the Congress leader had responded saying he didn’t need an aircraft but freedom to travel and meet the people.
(With inputs from IANS)