New Delhi: A delegation of opposition leaders including former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, Ghulam Nabi Azad, D Raja, Sharad Yadav, Manoj Jha, Majeed Memon, and others were sent back to Delhi, soon after they landed at the Srinagar airport.
The delegation wanted to visit the Valley to take stock of the situation following the abrogation of Article 370– which grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir. Notably, the Valley has been placed under security lockdown since August 5, when Article 370 was abrogated.
On Friday, the J&K administration had advised the opposition leaders not to visit, saying attempts should not be made to disturb the gradual restoration of normalcy in the state.
Before leaving for Srinagar, CPI leader D Raja had 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 the 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.
Speaking to reporters, Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD) Chief Sharad Yadav 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.”
The Opposition leaders’ visit to the Valley comes weeks after Governor Satya Pal Malik asked Rahul Gandhi to travel to J&K – on a plane to be sent by the centre.
“I have invited Rahul Gandhi to come here. I will send you a plane, to observe (the situation) and then speak up. You are a responsible person and you should not speak like this,” Malik had tweeted on August 11, responding to Congress leader’s (Rahul Gandhi) claims that reports of “violence and deaths” had come from Jammu and Kashmir.
Two days later, Gandhi accepted Malik’s invitation, but the Governor decided to withdraw the invitation for putting ‘pre-conditions’ for the visit. “Rahul Gandhi is politicising the matter by seeking to bring a delegation of opposition leaders to create further unrest and problems for the common people,” Malik said.
Earlier this month, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad and Left leaders D Raja and Sitaram Yechury were detained at the Srinagar airport and sent back to Delhi as the J&K administration did not allow them to visit the Valley.