Former Union minister Yashwant Sinha, who was ‘forcibly’ sent back from Srinagar by the Jammu and Kashmir administration on Tuesday, said he went there to just meet a few friends but was deported as if he was a “hijacker” and “terrorist”.
In an interview with The Indian Express, Sinha said he was associated with a group known as Concerned Citizens Group, which has been working for years trying to bring peace to the Valley.
“When we reached there, a person came to me and introduced himself as the Deputy Commissioner of Budgam. There were other police officials with him. He said he is my admirer. But I sensed that there is something wrong. Then he said that others can go to Kashmir but you cannot be allowed,” Sinha said.
Sinha said that two hours later, the SP sent a written order under Section 144 of CrPc restricting his entry to Budgam, stating his visit could create a law and order situation. On his protest, the SP produced another order which stated Sinha to go back.
“The last flight to Delhi that day was supposed to leave at around 5.30 pm. Then the SP, along with 20-25 officers, came to me as if I was a hijacker or terrorist. They forcibly took me and made me board the flight. Meanwhile, they locked my other associates so that they couldn’t know what happened to me. This is how I was sent back,” he said.
Calling former chief minister Farooq Abdullah a great nationalist and a secular leader, Sinha also pointed out that Kashmiri leaders were not being allowed to visit their homeland.
“We have detained Farooq Abdullah under the Pubic Safety Act. You have detained a man like this. You are not allowing Kashmiri leaders to visit their homeland. And why should leaders like Ghulam Nabi Azad and Sitaram Yechury take permission from the Supreme Court? The Supreme Court is not a visa-issuing authority. Kashmir is a part of the country and a free citizen of a free country can go there,” he said.
On being asked if he was targeted for being critical of the present regime, Sinha said, “I have been giving suggestions to the government as to how peace can be restored in the valley. So I don’t find any reason for the authorities to stop me. Only they can explain it.”
When questioned if the detention of Mehbooba Mufti was necessary as a preventive measure, Sinha said the PDP chief had a history of making provocative speeches.
“I would tell you an incident when Atal Ji wnt to Kashmir, Mehbooba Mufti was not allowed on the stage because of her speeches. Today you form the government with the same Mehbooba Mufti. I did not recommend the party to go and form the government with Mehbooba Mufti,” he said.
On the recent slowdown in the economy, Sinha, a former Union finance minister, said he saw it coming as the government spoke untruth about the growth and economy. Blaming demonetisation and “a badly designed” GST, Sinha said, “These were huge shocks to the economy – results of which are that the demand has contracted massively. There is no demand in the economy. Not just the automobile sector, but everywhere. Secondly, there is no money in the economy. There is no investment. Banks are loaded with NPAs.”
He also said the GDP rate falling to 5 per cent in the first quarter equalled to a Rs 6.5 lakh crore loss in national income.