Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, who concluded his six-day tour of Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday, said the dilution of Article 370 has caused so much despair in the state that many people have told him they have reached a “situation of suicide”.
“In brief, I can say that the extent of despair and anguish among people in Jammu is the same like Kashmir Valley. Ruling party ke 100-200 logo ko chor kar, koi khush nahi hai (Except for 100-200 people belonging to ruling BJP, no one is happy),” Azad said while he was on his way to the airport to catch a flight to Delhi.
“Whether it is a small or medium businessman, kiryana traders, or transporters, they have their business dependent on Kashmir,” he said, adding that, “a number of people I met said that they have reached a situation of committing suicide.”
“Itni nirasha, aur aatank itna hai, administration ka itna aatank maine duniya mein kahin nahi dekha (I have not seen so much despair among people and terror of administration anywhere in the world),” he said, adding: “people are scared of saying anything”.
Azad said the voice of people has been suppressed and the freedom of speech and expression have been taken away since the change of law in Jammu and Kashmir.
On Tuesday, the senior Congress leader had said that the situation in Kashmir was “very bad”. He also said that he had not been allowed to visit even 10 per cent of the places he wanted to tour in Kashmir Valley during his four-day stay there. He had met various delegations, besides having a tour of Jammu city in the evening and meeting traders.
His J&K visit took place after Supreme Court on September 16 allowed him to visit Srinagar, Anantnag, Baramullah and Jammu districts to inquire about the welfare of people.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had said that the Congress leader was free to interact with people during his visit to the Valley. His three earlier bids to visit Jammu and Kashmir, his home state, had failed as he was sent back from the airport by the authorities.
The Congress leader had assured the court that he was not going to his home state to hold any political rally or event. In his petition, he had also sought permission to check on the social atmosphere in the state following clampdown in the aftermath of Centre’s August 5 decision to dilute Article 370 and bifurcate the state into two Union Territories.
Earlier, the Supreme Court had allowed CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury to travel to Valley to meet his party colleague and former MLA MY Tarigami.