india today 1024x768 - Rahul Gandhi and other opposition leaders sent back from Srinagar
The opposition delegation led by Rahul Gandhi to visit Srinagar, detained in Srinagar. Image courtesy: Twitter

The Congress Leader Rahul Gandhi led a delegation of nine opposition parties to visit Srinagar on Saturday, in an attempt to review the reality in the region after the abrogation of the Article 370. However, the delegation was not allowed to step out of the Sringar airport and was sent back to New Delhi within an hour of their arrival.

While speaking to the media at the Srinagar airport, Rahul Gandhi is reported to have said, “The government has invited me. Now that I have come, they are saying you can’t come. The government is saying that everything is normal here, so if everything is normal then why are we not allowed to go in. It is surprising,”

“Some days ago I was invited by Governor to visit J&K.I accepted the invitation. The Governor had suggested that everything was normal and that he would send me a plane to visit the state. I told him that I don’t need your plane but I will accept your invitation and I would come to Jammu and Kashmir” said Gandhi

Furthermore, he said that they wanted to get a sense of what people are going through, but they weren’t allowed beyond the airport. Press people with them were mishandled, beaten. It’s clear that situation in J&K isn’t normal

The members of the delegation after being sent back to New Delhi lashed out , questioning claim of “normalcy” in the Valley.

A statement was issued by the J&K Pradesh Congress Committee that stated “Congress criticizes the action of the government to disallow opposition delegation to visit Kashmir in view of its repeated claims that the situation in the valley has normalized to the extent that all government and other institutions are working normally and there is peace in most parts of the state.”

According to Gulf News, Ghulam Nabi Azad said, “The government says the situation in J& K is normal. But then they don’t allow leaders to go there? Haven’t seen such contradiction. If things are normal there, why aren’t we allowed to visit the place?”

By far, none of the political leaders have been allowed by the Indian Government to visit the valley of the Indian Occupied Kashmir ever since they revoked the special status give to the valley by the Indian constitution, by abrogating Article 370 on August 5. The valley has been under a strict curfew with a complete communication blockage, shortage of food, medicines ever since. Thousands of residents have been arrested, detained. The political leadership was put under house arrest.

CPI general secretary D Raja who was part of the delegation said that the fact that they were denied entry into Srinagar showed that the government was “lying” about the “normalcy” in Jammu and Kashmir.

The delegation wrote a letter to the Budgam District Magistrate: “We record our strong objection to the basis of our detention, which prima facie is undemocratic&unconstitutional.#JammuAndKashmir “, reports ANI

The J&K Principal Secretary Rohit Kansal is reported to have said, “They had been requested to not visit the Valley”.

In response, the letter signed by the delegation members also stated that, “We are here at the public invitation of the honourable Governor who asked us to visit and see for ourselves the peace and normalcy that prevails. We are responsible political leaders and elected representatives and our intentions are entirely peaceful and humanitarian,” the letter signed by the delegation members said.

The letter stated that the “detention” of the leaders was “undemocratic” and “unconstitutional” and denial of movement in Srinagar amounted to “violation of fundamental rights”.

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