New Delhi: A delegation of opposition leaders, including Congress’ Rahul Gandhi, will visit Srinagar on Saturday to meet the people of Jammu and Kashmir where restrictions remain in place since August 5 when the Centre withdrew special status to the state and bifurcated it into two Union Territories.
The government so far has not allowed any political leader to enter the state since provisions of Article 370 were abrogated by the Centre.
According to sources, among some of the parties that will be part of the opposition delegation are the Congress, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Communist Party of India (CPI), Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Trinamool Congress (TMC) and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK).
Rahul Gandhi, who earlier expressed his desire to visit the Valley a number of times and had asked Governor Satya Pal Malik to permit him, is likely to be a part of the delegation.
The sources added that top Congress leaders who will accompany Gandhi include Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma. Azad had previously made two attempts to visit the state but was stopped twice — at Srinagar and Jammu. Raja was earlier also stopped at Srinagar airport and sent back.
CPI(M)’s Sitaram Yechury, CPI’s D Raja, DMK’s Tiruchi Siva, RJD’s Manoj Jha and Dinesh Trivedi from the NCP will also be part of the delegation.
Senior Congress leaders held party discussions on Friday evening about the impending visit. The sources added that the leaders also intend to visit some other parts of the state, if they are allowed to enter.
The Jammu and Kashmir government issued a statement on Friday night asking the leaders not to visit the Valley as it would disturb the gradual restoration of peace and normal life. It said that the visit would be in violation of restrictions imposed in many areas of the Valley.
“Political leaders are requested to cooperate and not visit Srinagar as 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,” it said.
The statement said at a time when the government is trying to protect people from the threat of cross-border terrorism and attacks by militants and separatists and gradually trying to restore public order by controlling miscreants and mischief-mongers, attempts should not be made by senior political leaders to disturb the restoration of normal life.
Several opposition parties, including the Congress, TMC and DMK, staged a protest at Jantar Mantar in Delhi on Thursday, demanding the release of political leaders under detention in Jammu and Kashmir and restoration of normalcy.
In a resolution passed during the protest, the opposition parties said as a consequence of abrogation of the provisions of Article 370 of the Constitution without holding consultations with the people of Jammu and Kashmir or their representatives, an undeclared state of Emergency had come to force in the Valley.
“We stand by the people of Jammu and Kashmir in their difficult hour. The decisions taken by the Union government to impose a complete communication blackout and the continued detention of former chief ministers and political leaders…members of civil society and even innocent citizens running into thousands are matters of serious concern.
Leaders of regional parties, including former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, have been under house arrest in the Valley.
(With inputs from PTI)
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Opposition Leaders, Including Rahul Gandhi, to Visit Srinagar Today as J&K Lockdown Continues – News18