Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who was sent back from the Srinagar airport along with other Opposition leaders earlier on Saturday, said that he had visited Jammu and Kashmir on the invitation of Governor Satya Pal Malik and that the manner in which the delegation was sent back by the state government proved that the law and order situation in Jammu and Kashmir was "not normal".
"We wanted to get a sense of what people are going through and help the situation if we could. But unfortunately we were not allowed to go beyond the airport. The press people with us were mishandled, beaten. It's clear that things are not normal in Jammu and Kashmir," Rahul told NDTV.
The delegation of Opposition leaders, which was sent back to Delhi from the Srinagar airport on Saturday, also wrote a letter to Budgam District Magistrate stating that denial of permission to travel in the city amounted to a violation of their fundamental rights.
"The objections to the delegation's movement outside Srinagar Airport and the apprehensions expressed in the order are baseless. They are tantamount to allegations against the purpose of our visit," read the letter signed by 12 leaders of Opposition parties, including those from the Communist Party of India (CPI), Dravida Munnetra Kazgham (DMK), Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD),Trinamool Congress (TMC), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Janata Dal(Secular).
"We record our strong objection to the basis of our detention, which prima facie is undemocratic and unconstitutional. This denial of our movement is Srinagar also amounts to a violation of our fundamental rights," it said.
The Opposition delegation, which included Rahul Gandhi, Ghulam Nabi Azad, D Raja among others, had boarded a flight from Delhi to Srinagar on Saturday morning.
The delegation was to visit Jammu and Kashmir reportedly to assess the situation on the ground after the abrogation of Article 370.
The state government had on Friday requested the leaders to not visit Srinagar, in order to avoid obstructing the restoration of normalcy.
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.
— DIPR-J&K (@diprjk) August 23, 2019
NCP Leader Majeed Memon, who is a part of the delegation, earlier said that the intention of the delegation was not to create any disturbance but to review the situation in the state.
"Our motive is not to go and create disturbance. We are not going as government's Opposition, we are going in government's support so that we too can give suggestions as about things that can be done," Majeed had told ANI.
"We are all intending to go there in order to find out what are the ground realities and issues being faced by them. We are also concerned about the detention of various eminent opposition leaders including former chief ministers," he said.
The senior politician added that Opposition leaders are equally concerned with regard to the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
"The government should do away with their apprehensions of us going there to create any trouble. We would go there to help the administration, expedite the process of restoration of normalcy because school, colleges are not functioning," he said.
After the Centre scrapped Article 370 giving special status to Jammu and Kashmir on 5 August, no political leader has been allowed to visit the state.
With inputs from ANI
Updated Date: Aug 24, 2019 23:06:36 IST