Having visited Jammu and Kashmir earlier this month, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad on Monday said the situation in the state was not at all normal, as was being claimed by the government.
He said there was an environment of fear, and business activities in both Jammu and Kashmir regions had taken a hit because of “government-made disaster”.
Azad said he was not allowed to travel and meet people freely by the administration despite the Supreme Court permitting him to do so. Addressing a press conference, Azad said he wanted to visit at least 15 places in Srinagar to meet handicraft workers, those employed in shikaras, rickshaw pullers and roadside vendors, but was allowed to visit only two places.
Azad said cameras were installed at guesthouses where he stayed and details of every visitor recorded. “And the word was spread that… those meeting could be picked up once they return home… many people who wanted to come and meet me sent messages that they were not coming because they feared they could be picked up,” he said. At some places, he added, people were turned away.
“Those who are saying there are no restrictions there… I am a living example… Despite the Supreme Court’s order… I was not allowed to meet people freely…. every person’s face was captured on camera… the situation was the same in Anantnag… the surveillance was so much that when I was talking to people on the lawns… the conversation was being recorded… there also I was not allowed to visit 4-5 places,” he said.
Azad said that during his visit he found out that business activity had come to a standstill in both the regions. “Every day, some 300 oil tankers used to leave Jammu… it has come down to 50 now…” he said, alleging that the government was “using local government” for repression.