NEWS
24/08/2019 9:51 AM IST

Rahul Gandhi, Other Opposition Leaders To Visit Kashmir, Authorities Say It Would 'Violate Restrictions'

So far no political leader has been allowed to visit the area even two weeks after Article 370 was scrapped.

Altaf Hussain / Reuters

While Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and leaders of various other Opposition parties are going to visit Kashmir on Saturday, the Jammu and Kashmir government issued a statement on Friday night saying this would disturb the process of restoring peace in the area. 

PTI reported the statement as saying, “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. 

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NDTV reported  that party leaders of the Congress, CPI, CPI-M RJD, NCP, TMC are all planning to visit the state. 

There has been little information coming out of Kashmir since the abrogation of Article 370, that gave special status to the state, since August 5, with a complete communication blackout and political leaders from the area under house arrest. The people of Kashmir, whom this decision affects the most, have been completely muted, even more than two weeks later. 

The Opposition has harshly criticised the move by the Narendra Modi government to abolish the law and also impose such restrictions on the state. 

Among the leaders who are likely to visit include Congress’s Ghulam Nabi Azad, who has already been stopped twice at Jammu airport, Anand Sharma, CPI-M’s Sitaram Yechury, TMC’s Dinesh Trivedi, CPI’s D Raja, DMK’s Tiruchi Siva, RJD’s Manoj Jha, the PTI report said. 

Up until now, no political leader has been allowed to enter the state, neither have leaders from Kashmir been allowed to visit Delhi. Leaders of regional parties, including former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, have been put under house arrest. 

Mufti’s daughter, Iltija, who has managed to leave the state, told Huffpost India in an interview that she and her grandmother were held under house arrest even though they did not hold any political posts. She wrote a letter to Home Minister Amit Shah, after which she was allowed to leave the state. 

“The government is creating a pressure cooker situation. You’ve locked people up for three weeks, what do you think will happen? People are not being able to express themselves. When people protest in other parts of the country, you don’t fire tear gas at them. Is the anger going to evaporate? If you lift the curfew after three months, will they forget all about it? No, they won’t,” she said in the interview. 

Meanwhile as the Modi government has been seeking to portray that Kashmir is slowly returning to normalcy, multiple reports of absent students from schools, a presence of a massive number of security forces and no internet and mobile show that Kashmir is still tense. 

(With PTI inputs)