Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and a delegation of opposition leaders were sent back to Delhi soon after they landed at Srinagar airport on Saturday. The delegation, which was on a visit to review the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, was denied permission to step out of Srinagar airport and was sent back an hour after landing in Srinagar.
A video shared by Congress on Twitter saw Rahul Gandhi trying to convince the officials at the Srinagar airport that he had come there on the invitation of Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik.
“The thing is, the government has invited me. The Governor has said that I am invited. Mujhe invite kiya hain…Toh ab main aaya hoon. Phir aap keh rahein hai ki main nahi aa sakta hun (I have now come here and you are telling me that I cannot come),” Rahul Gandhi told the authorities at the Srinagar airport.
Rahul Gandhi said J-K Governor Satya Pal Malik had assured that the situation is normal in Kashmir. Gandhi went on to add that he finds it a “bit surprising” that he was not allowed to step out of the airport as the government had claimed that the situation is normal in Kashmir.
“And the government is saying that everything is okay here and everything is normal. If everything is normal, then why are we not allowed out? It’s a bit surprising,” Rahul Gandhi said.
Rahul Gandhi also tried to plead the authorities that he only wants to visit the “areas that are peaceful” and interact with few people there. He also said that if Section 144 (prohibitory orders) is imposed in the area, he will comply with the rules and “will go individually”.
“We want to go to any area which is peaceful and talk to 10-15 people. We don’t want to do anything more. If it’s 144 ( Section 144), then I am ready to go individually. We will go individually then. We don’t even have to go as a group,” Rahul Gandhi said.
It’s been 20 days since the people of Jammu & Kashmir had their freedom & civil liberties curtailed. Leaders of the Opposition & the Press got a taste of the draconian administration & brute force unleashed on the people of J&K when we tried to visit Srinagar yesterday. pic.twitter.com/PLwakJM5W5
Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) August 25, 2019
Rahul Gandhi, who later landed at the Delhi airport, said that the delegation wanted to get a sense of what people were going through in the region but “we were not allowed beyond the airport”.
The opposition delegation, in a letter to the District Magistrate Budgam, termed as baseless the objections to the delegation’s movement outside Srinagar airport.
“We are here at the public invitation of the honourable Governor who asked us to visit and see for ourselves the peace and normalcy that prevails. We are responsible political leaders and elected representatives and our intentions are entirely peaceful and humanitarian,” the letter signed by the delegation members said.
CPI general secretary D Raja who was part of the delegation said that the fact that they were denied entry into Srinagar showed that the government was “lying” about the “normalcy” in Jammu and Kashmir.
“We were asked to go back after we were shown an order. We had gone there on the invite of the governor and despite that, we were asked to return. Where is the normalcy that the government promised?” asked Raja.
The letter stated that the “detention” of the leaders was “undemocratic” and “unconstitutional” and denial of movement in Srinagar amounted to “violation of fundamental rights”.
The leaders included Congress’ Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma and KC Venugopal, CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury , Tiruchi Siva (DMK), Sharad Yadav (LJD), Dinesh Trivedi (TMC), D Raja (CPI), Majeed Menon (NCP), Manoj Jha (RJD) and D Kupendra Reddy JD(S).