Politics, Asia - Pacific

Indian opposition sent back from Srinagar airport

Opposition parties say visit was attempt to assess situation in Jammu and Kashmir

Shuriah Niazi   | 24.08.2019
Indian opposition sent back from Srinagar airport


The leaders of various Indian opposition parties who landed in the capital of Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday to meet locals and their circumstances were sent back to Delhi, according to media reports.

According to the Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency, the delegation had planned to meet people in Jammu and Kashmir to assess the situation after region’s special status was removed and restrictions were imposed to prevent violent protests.

Indian Congress Party leader Rahul Gandhi had went to Srinagar along with delegations from other opposition parties including the leaders of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Communist Party of India, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Nationalist Congress Party, Trinamool Congress and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.

Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, who accompanied Gandhi, was earlier denied entry in Srinagar twice.

New Delhi imposed restrictions on movement and media in Jammu and Kashmir since it withdrew the state's special status and divided it into two union territories earlier this month.

On Friday, the Department of Information and Public Relations said on Twitter that the leaders' visit would "violate restrictions" that were valid in many areas and that leaders must understand that "priority" should be given to maintaining peace, order and preventing loss of human lives, said PTI.

"What is the Modi government trying to hide if the situation in Jammu & Kashmir is 'normal'?" the Congress Party asked,

"If the situation in Jammu & Kashmir is 'normal' as the govt claims, why has the delegation of Opposition leaders led by @RahulGandhi been sent back from Srinagar airport?" the party added.

Several opposition parties had on Thursday organized a protest in New Delhi, demanding the release of detained political leaders in Jammu and Kashmir.

Meanwhile, Communist Party India (Marxist) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury has filed a written petition in the Supreme Court for production of party leader Mohammed Yousuf Tarigami, who has been under detention in Jammu and Kashmir since the government abrogated provisions of Article 370, said the party on Saturday.

Jammu and Kashmir has been facing a communications blackout since Aug. 5, when New Delhi stripped the disputed region of special provisions guaranteed by the Indian Constitution.

From 1954 until Aug. 5, 2019, Jammu and Kashmir had enjoyed special provisions under which it enacted its own laws. The provisions also protected the region's citizenship law, which barred outsiders from settling in and owning land in the territory.

India and Pakistan both hold Kashmir in parts and claim it in full. China also controls part of the contested region, but it is India and Pakistan who have fought two wars over Kashmir.

Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.

According to several human rights groups, thousands of people have been killed in the conflict in the region since 1989.

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