A delegation of opposition leaders, led-by former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, was sent back to Delhi from the Srinagar airport Saturday evening. On an invitation from the Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik to stake stock of the situation in the Valley, the 12-member delegation had left for the Valley, earlier today. However, they were detained at the airport and made to return to the capital.
On returning to Delhi, Rahul said that it is clear that the situation in the Valley is not normal. “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,” he said.
The delegation termed their detention at the Srinagar airport as “undemocratic and unconstitutional”. In a signed letter to the Budgam District magistrate, they wrote: “We are responsible political leaders and elected representatives and our intentions are entirely peaceful and humanitarian. We are here to express solidarity with the people of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh as well as to expedite the process of return to normalcy.”
Jammu and Kashmir HIGHLIGHTS: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi along with a delegation of opposition leaders was sent back to Delhi today. Get the latest news here.
Pak Foreign Minister Qureshi dials UN chief over 'delicate' situation in Kashmir
Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi called UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to apprise him about the "evolving and delicate situation" in Jammu and Kashmir, PTI reported.
Addressing the media in Islamabad, Qureshi said it was responsibility of the international community to play a role in addressing the Kashmir situation.
"I highlighted the delicate situation that exist at the moment in Jammu and Kashmir during my conversation," he said.
J&K Cong criticises govt for not allowing Oppn leaders in Kashmir
The Jammu and Kashmir Congress criticised the Centre for not allowing a delegation of opposition leaders including Rahul Gandhi to not leave the Srinagar airport. "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 normalised to the extent that all government and other institutions are working normally and there is peace in most parts of the state," a statement issued by J&K Pradesh Congress Committee said.
Govt says everything is ok, why are we not allowed, asks Rahul
The govt is saying everything is okay here & everything is normal. If everything is normal why are we not allowed out?: Shri @RahulGandhi— Congress (@INCIndia) August 24, 2019
Was it not Governor Satya Pal Malik that invited Mr. Gandhi to come to J&K and assess the situation for himself? #RahulGandhiWithJnK pic.twitter.com/jneIkpOJve
We record strong objection to our detention, its undemocratic and unconstitutional: Oppn leaders write to Budgam DM
The delegation of opposition leaders that were sent back from Srinagar airport today, raised a "strong" objection to their detention calling it 'undemocratic and unconstitutional'. "This denial in our movement in Srinagar also amounts to a violation of our fundamental rights," the delegation wrote in a letter to the Budgam District Magistrate.
Citing that the delegation was visiting Srinagar on a public invitation of Governor Satya Pal Malik, the opposition leaders wrote: "We are responsible political leaders and elected representatives and our intentions are entirely peaceful and humanitarian. We are here to express solidarity with the people of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh as well as to expedite the process of return to normalcy."
Referring to the order of the Centre asking the delegation to return, the statement read: "The tone and tenor of the order read out attributes to us motives which are baseless and lack substance."
Clear that situation isn't normal: Rahul after being sent back from Srinagar airport
After being sent back from Srinagar airport, former Congress president Rahul Gandhi said that it is clear that the situation in Jammu and Kashmir is not normal, ANI reported.
"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," Rahul said.
Not allowed to go to city, situation in J&K is terrifying, says Ghulam Nabi Azad
Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, who was one among the delegation of opposition leaders to leave for Srinagar to take stock of J&K situation, said they were not allowed to go to the city but the situation in the Valley is terrifying.
We weren't allowed to go to the city, but the situation in J&K is terrifying. The stories we heard from the passengers of Kashmir present in our flight, would bring tears even to a stone," he said.
Day-time restrictions lifted from 69 police stations, nearly 1,500 primary schools open: Rohit Kansal
Day-time restrictions have now been lifted from 69 police stations across the Kashmir valley said J&K Principal Secretary of the Planning Commission Rohit Kansal. "In Jammu division, the corresponding figure is 81 police stations without any day-time restrictions. It has been observed that from Aug 17 onwards, there has been a steady decline in incidents," Kansal said.
Kansal said from August 17 there has been a steady decline in incidents, adding that however, the threat of cross-border terrorism continues to exist and relevant security forces are maintaining a state of high alert.
He further said nearly 1,500 primary schools and 1,000 middle schools have been opened, adding that the attendance, however, remains thin. "Education Department will attempt to operationalise primary & middle schools," the principal secretary said.
Next step towards operationalising and institutionalising Panchayati Raj mechanism in the state, Kansal said there has been an important decision taken regarding holding elections to the Block Development Councils.
Delegation of opposition leaders return to Delhi
Delegation of opposition parties including, Rahul Gandhi Ghulam Nabi Azad, D Raja, Sharad Yadav, Manoj Jha, Majeed Memon, and others that had gone to SRINAGAR & was sent back, arrive at Delhi airport, ANI reported.
No need for Rahul Gandhi to come to Srinagar: Guv Malik
Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik said there was no need for Rahul Gandhi to come to Srinagar anymore as the arrival of the delegation of opposition leaders was "nothing but a political action", ANI reported.
"There is no need for him now, he was needed when his colleague was speaking in the Parliament. If he wants to aggravate the situation & come here to repeat the lie he told in Delhi, it is not good," said Malik.
The governor said that he had invited the former Congress president out of goodwill, however, he "started doing politics".
"I had invited him out of goodwill but he started doing politics, it was nothing but a political action by these people. Parties should keep in mind the national interest at these times," Malik said.
Delegation of opposition leaders not allowed to leave Srinagar airport, says CPI(M)
The CPI(M)'s Politburo said the 11-member delegation of opposition parties travelling from Delhi to J&K was not allowed to leave the Srinagar airport by the administration. In its statement, the CPI(M) said stopping the opposition leaders was "day light robbery of rights" guaranteed by the Constitution.
"The delegation had planned to visit various parts of the state over the next few days, talking to various people and sections of the populace and shades of political opinion to ascertain the situation existing on the ground and the difficulties that they are encountering as a result of the shutdown in the Kashmir valley for days together," the CPI(M) statement said.
"The denial of entry to well-known leaders of recognized political parties is an outright attack on the rights of political parties to meet and address their constituents," it said.
"If 'normalcy' exists in the Valley as claimed by the government, why is it stopping representatives of political parties from meeting the people?" it asked.
It said that the people of the country were watching this "blatant trampling upon of the democratic rights of people and their representatives by a party which seeks to impose a totalitarian regime".
Instead stopping Oppn leaders from visiting Srinagar, Centre should have sent them there: Rajasthan CM Gehlot
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot crticised the Centre for stopping the delegation of opposition leaders including Rahul Gandhi saying the government instead itself should have sent an opposition leaders' team there to check the facts and win people's trust to its decision. "The government itself should have sent a delegation of opposition leaders and let them check the things on ground themselves," Gehlot told reporters in Jaipur.
"The opposition parties could have visited Srinagar and come back and told the truth to the whole country. It would have built confidence among people," he added.
Gehlot remarked on the Valley's situation saying that it has been almost 20 days since the people have been forced to stay behind doors. "The right to liberty is a fundamental right in our Constitution. The government cannot compel citizens to stay behind doors," he said.
"An atmosphere has been created as if they (BJP) alone are patriotic and not others," said Gehlot.
"They have been successful in misleading the general public as well. But the people will gradually understand the truth and expose them. Truth always triumphs," he added.
'Isolation' of J-K allowed Kashmiri youths to be misguided, get radicalised: PM Modi in UAE
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is on his three-nation tour, said J&K's special status was revoked to end its "isolation" which allowed some of the youth to be "misguided, get radacalised and take to violence and terrorism", PTI reported. On his UAE visit, Modi said, "We cannot afford to let these tendencies get any foothold in our harmonious society and distract us from the primary tasks of growth and development of the entire country. I appreciate the understanding the UAE and its leadership have shown for our steps and our reasons for taking them."
Rahul Gandhi and Oppn leaders sent back from Srinagar
Delegation of opposition leaders comprising Rahul Gandhi, Ghulam Nabi Azad, D Raja, Sharad Yadav, Manoj Jha, Majeed Memon, and others that had reached Srinagar has been sent back, ANI reported.
Restrictions lifted in most areas of Valley
Restrictions were lifted in most areas of Kashmir today, PTI reported. Officials said people were allowed to move freely even as the deployment of security forces continued on the ground. While barricades were removed from most areas, concertina wire barriers continued to be in place on the roads in some areas of the city and elsewhere in the valley, they said, adding that security forces allowed the movement of people only after checking their identity cards.
Congress visit an attempt to review situation in J&K: Party
"Shri Rahul Gandhi is leading a delegation of opposition leaders to assess the ground situation in Kashmir today. This visit is an attempt to review the reality in the region after the abrogation of Article 370," Congress posted on Twitter.
Shri @RahulGandhi is leading a delegation of opposition leaders to assess the ground situation in Kashmir today.— Congress (@INCIndia) August 24, 2019
This visit is an attempt to review the reality in the region after the abrogation of Article 370.#RahulGandhiWithJnK
PCI seeks SC's intervention on issues relating to communication blockade in J-K
The Press Council of India has moved the Supreme Court supporting the Centre and J&K government's decision to impose restrictions on communication in the state, PTI reported. The application filed by the PCI has sought the intervention of the apex court in the petition filed by Anuradha Bhasin, Executive Editor of Kashmir Times. Bhasin had sought the removal of restrictions on communication which she said were coming in the way of journalists' right to exercise their profession. The application on behalf of the PCI was filed by advocate Anshuman Ashok on Friday. In the application, the PCI has justified the communication blockade saying that due to the security concerns there can be reasonable restrictions on the media.
See photos: Opposition leaders onboard flight to Srinagar
Opposition leaders D Raja, Sharad Yadav, Majeed Memon and Manoj Jha onboard flight to Srinagar.
Opposition leaders D Raja, Sharad Yadav,Majeed Memon and Manoj Jha onboard flight to Srinagar.Opposition delegation including Rahul Gandhi are visiting Jammu & Kashmir today. pic.twitter.com/a5gxyy2i2o— ANI (@ANI) August 24, 2019
Yechury moves SC for production of detained CPI(M) leader Tarigami
Yechury has filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court for production of party leader Mohammed Yousuf Tarigami, who has been under detention in Jammu and Kashmir since the Centre abrogated provisions of Article 370, CPI(M) said on Saturday. Tarigami, a member of the Central Committee of the CPI(M) and four-time MLA of the dissolved J&K Assembly has not been keeping well, party sources said. The writ petition has been filed under Article 32 of the Constitution, the CPI(M) said.
Rahul Gandhi boards flight to Srinagar
Rahul Gandhi boards flight to Srinagar. (ANI)
Patel united 630 states, J&K was left: Amit Shah
While speaking at Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy in Hyderabad, Home Minister Amit Shah said, "I want to pay tributes to Sardar Patel; he united 630 princely states, only Jammu and Kashmir was left. Under PM Modi's leadership, Article 370 has been abrogated and J&K has been fully integrated with the rest of India."
Optimistic about J&K visit, says DMK
DMK's Tiruchi Selva said, "We are optimistic. We are going to Kashmir to see the situation."
J&K admin invited us to Kashmir: Yechury
"It is the administration who asked us to go and see the situation in Jammu and Kashmir. So, we are going today," CPIM's Sitaram Yechury said.
Rahul Gandhi leaves for Jammu and Kashmir
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi leaves his residence for Jammu and Kashmir. (Express photo/Praveen Khanna)
If situation is normal, why are leaders detained: Ghulam Nabi Azad
"On one hand, the government says the situation is normal, and on the other hand, they don't allow anyone to go. Never seen such contradictions. If things are normal, then why political leaders are under house arrest?" Ghulam Nabi Azad told reporters.
Ghulam Nabi Azad who is part of Opposition delegation which will visit J&K today: On one hand Govt says situation is normal, and on the other hand they don't allow anyone to go.Never seen such contradictions. If things normal then why political leaders are under house arrest? pic.twitter.com/xRlD8DNGuU— ANI (@ANI) August 24, 2019
'Need leaders to spread right message'
The sources said while panchayat elections held last year were seen as a “success”, it will be a while for the panch and sarpanch to build any sizeable political base. “That’s a few years away. Right now, we need leaders to spread the right message,” another source said.
Talks needed with leaders to ease J&K restrictions: Source
According to highly placed sources, who did not wish to be identified, some officials from investigating agencies were in communication with the leaders of the two mainstream Valley parties. “The political lockdown cannot continue forever. There has been some movement to sound out the two leaders for possible easing of restrictions on them. There is need to create space,” a source familiar with the developments told The Indian Express.
Going in govt's support, not opposition: NCP leader
NCP leader, Majeed Memon, who is part of the opposition delegation, told ANI, "Our motive is not to go and create disturbances. We aren't going in the government's opposition but as their support. We too have to give suggestions as to what must be done."
NCP leader Majeed Memon who is part of Opposition delegation which will visit J&K today: Our motive is not to go & create disturbances, we aren't going in govt's opposition, we are going in govt's support, so that we too give suggestions as to what must be done. pic.twitter.com/U502HYoEz1— ANI (@ANI) August 24, 2019
Govt makes first contact with Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti
The Centre, meanwhile, has reached out to two former chief ministers of Jammu and Kashmir, Omar Abdullah of National Conference and Mehbooba Mufti of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, raising the possibility of re-opening some space for political dialogue in the Valley. Omar and Mehbooba have been under detention ever since August 4, a day before the government announced revocation of J&K’s special status and its bifurcation into two Union Territories. While Omar is currently at Hari Niwas Palace, Mehbooba is at the Chashme Shahi in Srinagar.
Request political leaders to cooperate: J&K admin
“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," the J&K department tweeted.
J&K administration says don't disturb
The decision of the Opposition leaders, however, did not go down well with the J&K administration, who asked political leaders “to cooperate and not visit Srinagar”. “At a time when the government is trying to protect the people of Jammu & Kashmir 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 gradual restoration of normal life,” J&K’s Department of Information and Public Relations (DIPR) tweeted.
If everything normal, they no difficulties expected: Opposition
While announcing their decision, the opposition leaders said the government and J&K administration had been claiming that the situation was near normal, and “if everything is normal, then we don’t expect any difficulty in moving around.”
'Not going to forment trouble in Valley'
Azad, a former J&K chief minister, has tried to visit the state twice but was sent back from Srinagar and Jammu airports. Yechury and Raja, too, travelled to Srinagar earlier this month but were sent back from the airport. “The Governor of J&K had invited Rahul Gandhi to come and see the ground situation. Let’s see what happens,” a top Opposition leader told The Indian Express, when it was pointed out that Azad was sent back from the airport twice. “We are not going to foment trouble. We are going in solidarity with the people of Kashmir,” another leader said.
Which parties will visit Kashmir today?
The Opposition leaders’ decision — taken on Friday during a meeting at the Parliament office of Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad — came after the parties on Thursday held their first street protest in the capital demanding the release of detained political leaders in J&K, and is an attempt to mount pressure on the government to ease the restrictions. Rahul, Azad, Anand Sharma and K C Venugopal will represent the Congress in the delegation, which will include CPM’s Sitaram Yechury, CPI’s D Raja, DMK’s Tiruchi Siva, LJD’s Sharad Yadav, TMC’s Dinesh Trivedi, NCP’s Majeed Memon, RJD’s Manoj Jha and JDS’ D K Reddy.
Rahul Gandhi, opposition leaders to visit Valley today
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi along with a delegation of top opposition leaders will visit Srinagar on Saturday to “see the ground situation in the state”, where restrictions have been in place since the first week of August. However, hours after their decision was announced, the J&K administration asked political leaders “to cooperate and not visit Srinagar”. Follow this blog to get all the latest updates.