23 August 2019
New Delhi: A delegation of nine opposition parties led by former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi will visit Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday to meet the people and party leaders in the region where restrictions have been imposed since the abrogation of Article 370.
A senior Congress leader told IANS that "Rahul Gandhi along with senior party leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma and leaders from CPI, CPI-M, RJD, DMK and others will be part of the delegation."
Saturday's visit to Srinagar will be Gandhi's first visit since the abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcation of the state of Jammu and Kashmir into Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
He said the BSP and the Samajwadi Party are not part of the delegation going along with Gandhi. The party leader said that opposition leaders will travel to Srinagar on an Air Vistara flight at 11.50 a.m.
The visit of the opposition parties comes almost three weeks after the BJP-led NDA government abrogated Article 370 of the Constitution that gave special status to the state.
Earlier, Azad was not allowed to enter Srinagar once and Jammu twice and was sent back to Delhi. Similarly, CPI and CPI-M General Secretaries D. Raja and Sitaram Yechury were also not allowed to enter Srinagar and were detained at the airport and then sent back to Delhi.
Earlier this month, Gandhi also had a run-in with Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satyapal Malik on Twitter. The Governor had said that Gandhi was trying to politicise the matter of Jammu and Kashmir and that he should visit the valley if he wants to know the "real ground situation."
On August 14, Gandhi accepted Malik's invitation to visit the state without any conditions and asked when he could come.
His remarks came a day after Malik on August 13 accused Gandhi of politicising the Kashmir issue by seeking to put several pre-conditions to visiting the valley, and which he said would lead to further unrest and problems for the people.
Malik said Gandhi was responding to fake news possibly spread from across the border about the situation in Kashmir which was peaceful with negligible incidents.
The Governor on August 12 had also offered to send Gandhi an aircraft to visit the valley and see for himself the ground situation to which the former Congress chief responded saying that he did not need an aircraft but freedom to travel and meet the people.
Following the abrogation of Article 370, former Chief Ministers Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti and several other leaders have been put under house arrest in the valley.
Mobile, telephone and internet services were also blocked for several days in the region as a precautionary measure.